Frankie couldn’t come back across the border, but his ashes could. They traveled in a small red wood box. His brother Beto put them inside a carry-on bag, and they cleared the metal detector at the port of entry in San Luis, Arizona. The box sat next to him on the ride back to Flagstaff until he placed it in his mother’s arms.
Beto had made the 500-mile journey to Hermosillo, Mexico, hoping that he would find Frankie alive, but he knew his mind was playing tricks on him. It wasn’t until he opened the casket at the funeral home that it hit him: Frankie was gone. There were scratches on the side of his neck, ears, and face, and the undertakers had dressed him in a buttoned-down white shirt with a black bandana pattern that Beto knew Frankie would have hated. Beto gave him a hug and a kiss with a soft, “I love you.” Outside the funeral home, relatives whom Beto barely remembered rushed to hug him and give him condolences in a Spanish he couldn’t grasp. Read more