To remember Carlos Hernandez Gomez is to smile.
Carlos was one of those people who brought you joy just by walking through the door. You knew that he'd make you laugh. It might be funny, witty or outrageous, but Carlos was sure to say something that would bring a smile to your face.
I had the honor of working with Carlos nearly 10 years ago when we were both reporters at The Chicago Reporter. Carlos fit in well. We were a bunch of young, energetic and idealistic journalists, passionate about our work and a bit wild, at times, when we played.
During his year at the Reporter, Carlos built a vault of fond memories, as I'm sure he did at WBEZ, CLTV and WGN-TV. But there should have been more. We talked about getting together and reliving old times and hearing about the new times, as well. We'd matured, married and moved on to new jobs. It warmed my heart to see him succeed in life and love, since we'd shared many beers, stories and even a few tears about our fears and failures in both of those worlds.
I remember his uncertainty about applying for a political reporter job at WBEZ. At that time, he'd never worked in radio and wasn't sure if he'd be a competitive applicant. "Are you serious?" I remember telling him. "You're a natural."
He was a restless soul, always in motion, always in conversation, always on the hunt for the next story. It helped enable him to make such a lasting impression on the countless folks he encountered and to leave such a long legacy even though he'd only been on the Chicago journalism scene for a relatively short time.
Carlos never met a conversation he didn't like, and even then he knew more about the ins and outs of the Chicago political scene than even the most seasoned political journalists. He was perhaps Chicago's biggest political junkie, a budding superstar as a political reporter. We were blessed to see him in that role for as long as we did, and we will surely miss his talents, his character and his personality.
For the rest of my days, I will regret not taking the steps to make sure that we had at least one more round to talk about politics, our mutual love for Pam Grier and our favorite scenes from the movie "New Jack City," including the one we'd act out from time to time. Whenever we'd see one another in the office or at an event, Carlos would call out: "Am I my brother's keeper?" And, just like in the movie, I'd reply: "Yes, I am."
Despite his bout with cancer, I thought we'd have practically a lifetime to catch up. When I last spoke to him, he assured me that he was feeling well and that everything would be OK. He was so convincing, I'd stopped worrying about his health and assumed that he'd have many more years. Always upbeat, Carlos had an unbeatable spirit. Cancer may have beaten Carlos' body, but not his spirit nor his will. Even until his final hours, Carlos remained positive, and he fought.
He was an unforgettable reporter and an unforgettable person. Surely, our days will be a little bit darker without him. "Am I my brother's keeper? Yes I am."
Carlos, we'll miss you, brother.