Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz shone bright, like a diamond, his childhood friend says.
Nicole Irizarry remembers that Sanfeliz started calling the people he loved "diamonds" after they tried to stay up all night to watch a meteor shower on Cocoa Beach about two years ago. When it began, they started making wishes for each shooting star that fell across the sky.
"I remember Chris said, 'Oh my god, diamonds are falling out of the sky,'" she says. "From then on, he would tell his friends, 'You're my diamonds.' There's a wrenching feeling in my gut from just remembering it."
Irizarry can't even listen to the song "Diamonds" by Rihanna after the death of Sanfeliz, 24, along with 48 other people in a mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse on June 12. A Tampa native of Cuban descent, Sanfeliz worked as a personal banker at JPMorgan Chase. He would do anything for his family, especially his older brother, Carlos Sanfeliz Jr. After Sanfeliz's death, his brother wrote on Facebook that his heart was "completely broken."
"My little brother, the most important person in my life, has passed away due to his injuries," Carlos Sanfeliz Jr. wrote. "Everyone knows the bond that I had with my brother. We would finish each other's sentences, knew each other's thoughts, and could sense when the other was upset. ... He was the light of my family and I know that he will continue to bless us and his light will be radiating down from a better place."
Irizarry remembers Sanfeliz as a good dancer who loved bachata. He was a "hopeless romantic" who found a particular enjoyment in planning his friends' imaginary weddings and told her he would be her bride's man. He adored mac and cheese, loaded mashed potatoes and restaurant bread baskets, Irizarry says.
"He's still a part of our lives," she says. "He was like a brother. Chris had the best heart, he was kind and he put other people's happiness before his own.
"It's hard not having him just to say hi in the morning or have his support. You know, we all have friends, but there are very few people we can actually trust. He was that for me. He was a really good soul, and I know he's in a better place."