Family, friends remember Dominic Aberl

The crowd watched attentively as he walked across the stage, unsure if he would make it, but he was determined to push forward and receive that diploma. And make it he did. Dominic Aberl vowed to walk across that stage at graduation stage and did so to the cheers of his peers and the audience.

   Sadly, Aberl passed away Aug. 12 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

   Arlington held a service for him at the memorial tree after school on Sept. 13, but his actual funeral was held on  August 25. Friends, family, and staff gathered around the memorial tree.

  Principal Steven Ybarra began the service by discussing his personal experiences with Aberl and invited others to do the same. Once the uplifting stories concluded, Joshua Searcy led Aberl’s 6-year old brother, Victor, by the hand as he placed Aberl’s stone alongside the commemorative stones.

    Aberl was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which refers to cancer radiating in the bones and surrounding soft tissue, and he fought through five relapses.

    While he attended Arlington, he touched the lives of many students and faculty alike because of his ability to comfort and uplift others. The first impressions he made had lasting impacts on those who knew him.

      Senior Michelle Graham, Aberl’s girlfriend, recalled the time she first met Dom when he came to comfort her during her sophomore year. In the midst of an anxiety attack, Aberl walked over to her, and, assuming she was being bullied, called her “beautiful.” She said,”… he wiped the tear, falling from my face…Then he said, ‘My name is Dom , and if you ever need me, I’ll always be around to talk.’”

     For those who knew him, his empathy towards others comes as no surprise. He always put the needs of others first.

     Joshua Searcy, 2017 alumni and best friend, said, “He never wanted people to worry about his condition. He always asked people how THEY were doing. He cared so much about making other people happy.”

     Many found this to be a very profound part of his personality. Despite his own pain, he was deeply admired for the way he treated everyone with deep compassion and made them feel important despite his own pain.

     Tyson Gastelum, senior and close friend, said that he was personally inspired by Aberl’s ability to keep smiling through everything. “He was one of the strongest people I knew.”

     Assistant Principal Lindsey Rosa, too, was inspired by Aberl. She found his outlook on life to be very uplifting, because “even though life is hard, there are still reasons to be grateful.” She continued, saying, “He saw the good in everything. Dom loves everyone. It didn’t matter what you looked like,…. Dom was loving and respectful to everyone.”

      Aberl’s light and happy attitude was able to make all experiences memorable. He brought joy to everything he was involved in. Gastelum’s favorite memory of Aberl was when they were at a home football game that Arlington was losing. However, his own disappointment dissipated upon seeing  Aberl’s elated expression. Aberl said that he was just happy to be with his friends, which very much touched Gastelum.

      “Dominic helped me see the big picture in life. It didn’t matter what you had or where you were from; all that matters is what’s in your heart and the positivity you spread to others,” said Graham.

        “Dom has taught me to live life to the fullest, treat others with exceptional kindness, and to make others day better,” said Rosa.

       Gastelum expressed how grateful he was to have him in his life, because he was like family to him, and he wants to make him proud.

       People have chosen many ways to honor his memory. Graham channels Aberl through artistic expression, while Rosa chooses to emulate the way he treated others. Gastelum and Searcy choose to honor their friend with a tattoo.

      In the wake of tragedy, Megan Peralta, Dominic’s mother is finding the strength to carry on his legacy.

     She reports that her family is working with AHS to create a scholarship in his name that will most likely be geared towards those who want to pursue art, seeing how it was something he was so passionate about.

    She also plans to “start a nonprofit organization that helps teens with illnesses transition back into school after or concurrent with treatments.”

    She hopes to give students an easier experience than her son faced. She said that Dominic fell behind in credits his ninth grade year and his only option was to take a fifth year- super senior, because of his chemo treatment.

    “But he shouldn’t have had to. They made his difficult situation more hard, and that was irritating,” she said.

    Peralta said Aberl’s best attribute was his heart, which she described as “beyond measure.”

    He cared more about others than he did himself. “Even when being wheeled into the ER in horrendous pain, this guy each and every time made it a point to ask how someone else’s day was going,” she said.

    She does admit that it’s been incredibly hard for her and family to cope understandably. “ My entire life is just upside-down essentially… he was my whole life for half my life… not sure who I am without him here now,” she said.

   However, she is grateful for all he has taught her. “Dominic taught me more than I ever did him… He smiled in the face of fear, laughed as opposed to crying and loved life, everyone and everything in it. We should all be so grateful …Those things we take for granted each day somewhere someone else wishes they had.   

   She is also happy to report that Aberl’s face will be the cover of the Gold Hope Project, which is a group of photographers who provide free portrait sessions for pediatric cancer patients to bring awareness to childhood cancer and provide funding for a cure, calendar and urges people to support the cause by purchasing a copy on their website,