This month marks the 17th anniversary of the death of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known as just “Selena” to her fans. Her husband Chris Pérez, has far from forgotten her. After all these years, he finally decided to write a book about their love in his memoir called, “To Selena, With Love.”
“I did suppress all of my memories until this book,” says Pérez, whose upbeat nature toned down remembering the pain he went through when his wife was murdered at only 23-years-old. “That was my way of dealing with it.”
Although he didn’t want to talk about it before, he remembers everything from when they met around 1988. Selena was only 17, and he was around 18.
“As the two youngest members of the band, while everybody else was doing 21-year-old things, we’d stay in the bus playing video games, go walk around the malls, or go to a movie,” says Pérez.
It is from there that he starts telling his love story.
“It was basically me talking,” says Pérez about the writing process. He then had his conversations transcribed.
He says he can’t remember the very first time he fell in love with Selena, because they spent so much time together that one day just led into the next.
But no matter the precise moment it happened, his love for her was inevitable.
“Her laugh, her smile, her sense of humor…just to be near her was good enough,” says Pérez. “She had a daring side to her, like a ‘Man you’re crazy’ kind of thing.”
He remembers the last time he saw her vividly.
“The last visual memory I have is that smile and that laugh,” he says. “I didn’t have my phone because she took my car and my keys. Nobody could get a hold of me. She wanted to make dinner for us, and I went to get the ingredients. When I got home, I got a call saying there was an accident.”
He says even on his way to the hospital, the idea that she might be dead wasn’t even a thought in his mind.
“I was in shock,” he says. “I was devastated. Something like that changes you. It shakes your core. As cliche as it sounds, food didn’t taste the same, colors didn’t look the same. Everything was gray.”
Being a songwriter and a musician, he says he began taking little baby steps forward. As time went on, he started walking at a steady pace, until he started running with his musical career.
He says he even tried marriage again, from which he has a 13 and 7-year-old.
Although his second marriage did not work out, he has not lost his zest for life.
“My hopes for the future are to watch my children grow up, to continue to be able to make a living playing music, and to have a happy family,” says Pérez.
As far as Selena is concerned, he will always remember how she loved junk food, especially the Whataburger from Corpus Christi; how she had a really bad habit of not putting gas in her car, and how she would just get out of her car and drop her keys wherever and lose them – same thing with her cell phone.
“Cell phones were the size of a cracker box, but she managed to lose it.” he says fondly.
However, he says one of the most important things she stood for is that all is possible with hard work.
“That’s one of her biggest messages,” says Pérez. She was part of the D.A.R.E. campaign and the educational push in Texas, and obviously her voice and music. That’s what she’d like people to remember her for – those things.”
Pérez says the whole experience of having had Selena in his life, even for just six years, has taught him to be less afraid to express his feelings of love to his friends and family.
“I believe that if you feel love in your heart for someone, it would be difficult to deny,” he says. “Never be afraid to love or fall in love.”
Originally published on NBCLatino.com.