Submitted by his girlfriend, Jenna Bullaro
He was perfectly imperfect
Anthony was the most unique soul to ever walk into my life. He was kind and a friend to all, even strangers. He walked into a room, and instantly everyone was whole, complete. Our time together was far too short, but I am happy to have loved someone so much that his absence hurts so much, if that makes sense.
He was my absolute best friend, someone who would not judge, as he was not perfect himself. We were young, and he had his issues, but we navigated our way through life together as a team. I would often look at him and think, How can someone so perfectly imperfect be mine? How did I get so lucky?
The little things made him different
We had worked together at ShopRite for maybe six months before we started talking. I thought he was funny and interesting, the kind of person who didn’t care what anyone else thought. When we started dating, things moved pretty fast, but I was OK with it because I was comfortable with him.
The night he asked me to be his girlfriend, we were in his car. He pulled out a huge bag of Ring Pops and took one out and gave it to me. Laughing, I asked, ”What is this?” He then started laughing and said, “This means you’re mine.” We both laughed, and then he kissed me. I felt at home.
It was the little things like that that made him so different — quirky, if you will. God, I wish I still had that blue-raspberry Ring Pop.
He was a real lifesaver
He actually had saved two lives in his 20-year lifespan. When he was around 13 or so, his baseball coach was driving him home after a game. The coach had been drinking and had a seizure behind the wheel. Anthony grabbed the wheel and steered into a bush and avoided harming anyone on the street. Who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t acted so quickly?
Long before he met me, he saved a little girl whose name was also Jenna from drowning in a pool. Years later, I was in a tough place in my life — “drowning,” if you will — and he walked right in and saved me, made me whole. I like to think of it as a metaphor: He had saved me, too.
How drugs became a part of Anthony’s life
Right after we started dating, I found out that he was trying to sell Oxy to some peers. I was so upset and confronted him about it. He said he was sorry and that he didn’t take any. He was just trying to get rid of them quickly.
A couple weeks go by, and we’re in his room hanging out. He takes out a clear baggie with maybe about 10 round white pills. I was scared, but I had complete and total trust in him. I was in love. He told me how much to take according to my tolerance level and my weight, etc. He was intelligent and studied, and he knew so much about dosage — and what not to do. I was amazed. So I said, “Fuck it, life is short. Why not?”
And we took them and laid together in bed nodding out. I’m not going to lie: It was the best feeling in the world. Weeks went by, and we would get some every now and then just to have fun. But then it escalated to other things: weed, Xanax, Adderall, cocaine, ketamine — you name it, we did it.
It was kind of our thing. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. I didn’t worry too much, because I trusted him fully. He knew what he was doing, I thought. We would stop for a while to pace ourselves, and then go again. I was so amazed by the world he was showing me.
Our relationship grew stronger, to be frank. We were having fun and exploring together. In the back of my mind, I knew it was wrong. But we were together and happy, so that was all that mattered.
A stupid, careless mistake
I think he struggled before I met him, but I don’t believe we were addicts — it’s not like all he cared about was drugs. We were having fun — stupid, careless fun. The night he died, he made a mistake that I thought could never happen. He took too much of one thing or another and didn’t calculate properly. It was a stupid, careless mistake.
This is also where my guilt comes in. I knew what we were doing was wrong, but I pushed that thought down because I trusted him. If I didn’t do the things we did, maybe he would have stopped and would still be here today. He could have done something with his life, and that’s what gets me. That’s all I think about. I could have saved his family and myself from so much pain if I had just said “no” one time. But I didn’t.
If I could say one thing to Anthony, it would be
I miss you. I love you with my whole being. I need you. I’m so sorry. I forgive you. Please don’t ever leave my side.