AJ Fernandez was born on April 17, 1991 in Queens, NY. From the beginning he displayed remarkable intelligence. As a middle child he was not although he loved fighting with his older sister Stephanie; but always found time to be with his younger brother Will. AJ never wanted to be the center of attention but always wanted to be a part of the excitement. As he aged into middle school, he took interest in baseball and was an amazing pitcher. They called him Fireball Fernandez! When AJ was 13 years old, our family relocated to Palm Coast, Florida. He finished his 8th grade year at Buddy Taylor Middle school; this is where he met and began lifelong friendships. His interest of sports changed from baseball to skateboarding! The only way for his sister Stephanie to be allowed to use the car was to take AJ and all his friends to the Wadsworth Skate Park. He soon began driving our family crazy with the love he discovered in playing the drums; thankfully he also loved graphic design, video editing, and his true passion, drawing.
AJ spent the next four years at Flagler Palm Coast High School and graduated with a near 4.0 GPA. He then attended Daytona State College on a Bright Futures Scholarship. AJ was gifted in so many areas that choosing a major was difficult; he favored website design and technical graphics.
AJ wanted to take time off from school and join the Coast Guard Reserve. I can still hear him telling us his plans as though it were in a bubble over my head; less than 3 months later he started displaying the first signs of what we now know as “Paranoid Schizophrenia” And this is where our journey began. Over the next six years AJ battled fear, anxiety, and paranoia. Our family tried countlessly to help him battle this horrible illness; in and out of hospitals, several different medicine recipes and a room full of doctors trying to help us help him. We left leaving each facility lost and confused, still with no straight answers.
On August 26, 2015 at 8:15PM AJ took his own life. AJ was 24 years old. As we write a condensed version of “AJ’s Story,” it is important that you, the reader, know that AJ was so much more than these little words, and much bigger than Paranoid Schizophrenia. He was a son, a brother, and a loving friend. He had a huge heart and a smile that lit up a room. Anyone who knew AJ knows he lived life to the fullest; cut short by this illness. He made you think about the actual meaning of life and he inspired us to want to be a better person. Most of all he loved us all unconditionally.
We miss you AJ