“It was really love at first sight with me and Jon,” shares Marco. “I was only supposed to be in the United States for six months. But after just two months of being here for my internship, I met Jon and that was it.” 

Marco returned to Italy to complete his master’s degree, and flew back to New York to start a life with Jon. And what a wonderful life it was. 

“We met in-person after chatting on Gay.com, which doesn’t exist anymore,” laughs Marco. “It was the middle of Fashion Week. I showed up forty-five minutes late because I’d been working backstage. There was a click. A spark. I invited him over to my place and after ten minutes, I sent him away because I had a raging headache. I figured I’d never hear from him again, that I wrecked it. But, the next day I got a text, where Jon said that despite me trying to get rid of him, ‘Not so easy.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so funny.’ He asked me out again. The rest is history.” 

Marco shares that upon being welcomed into Jon’s home on their second date and meeting his two dogs, he knew he was husband material. 

"I can’t pinpoint what exactly it was about him that I knew, but something clicked. I felt at home in that stranger’s place because at the end of the day, I didn’t know him. I felt so much at home—more so than in my own home. I felt like that was my place. And that was my man.” 
Marco, Jon & Chewy

Sometimes, it seemed Jon and Marco were opposite sides of the same coin. They complemented each other in the best ways. For example, Marco is six-feet-tall compared to Jon’s five-foot-five. Marco loves roller coasters; Jon was terrified of heights. Jon was a party boy versus Marco being Mr. Responsible. And Jon was born and raised in New York, whereas Marco was “fresh off the boat.” They also had an age gap, which could make communication…interesting, to say the least.  

But, they had two very important things in common. They were both creatives—Jon as a playwright and Marco in the fashion industry—which meant they shared many of the same interests. “Wherever we traveled, we would always visit art museums, and it was a party for both of us,” says Marco. 

And they both were completely in love with dogs. 

In Sickness and In Health

“You love the person. You spend your life with the person. You take care of the person.” 

Caring for each other in sickness and in health is a vow that Marco and Jon accepted with the utmost sincerity. About five years into their relationship, Marco suffered severely from ADHD. “I was bedridden,” states Marco. “I had panic attacks that were very strong and I didn’t know what they were. Jon physically carried me to the ER and started the process with doctors and physiologists. He saved me.” 

Tragically, for the last seven months of his life, Jon was ill with pancreatic cancer. “You never think you’re going to be able to do something like this until it happens,” explains Marco. “For one thing, I am terrified of needles. I can’t stand going into hospitals, and yet, by the end, I was telling nurses how to do their job. It was a revelation about myself. Because I didn’t know I was going to be able to take care of him. It was a full-time job. He stopped eating and had to be connected to an IV for twelve hours. I had to learn. And you do. You just do. I am proud of what I did. But also, when people say to me, ‘My God, I don’t know how you did it,' I don’t know either. You just do it. I don’t feel like a better person because I took care of my husband—that’s how it’s supposed to be.” 

An artist, through and through, Jon planned the details of his passing with artistic precision. His ultimate goal was not to be a burden for his husband. “Of course, it was very painful for him to think of his own funeral,” shares Marco, “but he did it because he didn’t want to burden me. And if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.”

Jon’s Diamond

“There are people who go their whole lives and never experience this kind of companionship. I’m so lucky that I got to meet my half and that I got to spend fifteen years with him. Because of that, my reaction to his passing was more than sadness, it was anger. I was really resentful to the world. What did I do, I wondered. We were happy and why take it away from us? Unfortunately there’s never an answer to those questions. I think that sharing his story is a way for me to remember him and keep him alive somehow. And of course, Eterneva is incredibly amazing. He actually found them. I had no idea, even, of the possibility.”  

Having grown up in Italy and therefore outside  the U.S., Marco is fascinated by the death industry in America. He often shared YouTube videos with Jon who, while in the hospital, began scrolling on TikTok and discovered Eterneva. “So, the next day, he told me about it,” states Marco. “I started studying the process and I found it so interesting and so beautiful—the transformation of something grey and inanimate into something as beautiful as a diamond. It’s a gorgeous concept.”

“The way Americans go about death is ridiculous. People are so afraid of death. They don’t want to see or experience death, so they do whatever they can to make it vanish. Like it doesn’t exist.” 

Two weeks before Jon passed, he gave Marco instructions. Jon being Jon, of course, made sure Marco was taking notes. One of the instructions was what to do with the ashes. He told Marco to scatter the ashes in two different locations—one that held significance for him and one that was significant for them as a couple. Marco was then to send the remainder of Jon’s ashes to Eterneva to make a gorgeous ring for himself, which he and Jon designed together.

“He chose the color, the size, everything,” says Marco. “I wear it all the time. Because it’s not just the diamond that comes from his ashes. The whole concept of this ring comes from him. So, I had no doubts when I started the process with Eterneva that this was exactly what I wanted, because it was Jon’s vision.” 

Jon’s diamond is blue, his favorite color. It complements the ring he gave to Marco when they got engaged—a diamond surrounded by sapphires—and represents his love of the water. 

The Stories Jon Left Behind

“Everybody carries a story. I am who I am today because I was with him. I was twenty-four and naive, and I decided to jump into this relationship. If I were to go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would do exactly the same thing.”

Jon loved books, especially books about culture. His library sprawled between two rooms in their home, and included an extensive collection of William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. 

He loved his work to the point of obsession. For his screenplay The Cadaver’s Signod, he traveled to Rome to conduct research and was granted permission to explore the Vatican archives. The screenplay won the prize in the Cannes Film Festival. Marco shares that when it’s finally produced, he will be so happy to see Jon again on camera.

In August 2023, Marco traveled to Long Island to attend a one-act play festival where one of Jon’s short plays was chosen to open the event. The play is called Voyage and holds incredible meaning for Marco. “It was written before Jon met me,” he shares, “and, it’s a story of a forty-year-old widower on a cruise line as he brings the ashes of his husband to Mykonos. Before he died, Jon made me promise that I would go on that cruise. So I did, and on my fortieth birthday, I literally became the character in his play, arriving in Mykonos to scatter my husband’s ashes. It was one of the most painful trips I’ve ever taken. And yet, a promise is a promise.” 

Since Jon’s passing, Marco and some of Jon’s closest friends and colleagues published a short collection of Jon’s work, which includes Voyage. The anthology is called Seven Plays, and each work within has themes that engage contemporary social issues, gay and ethnic identity, and family dynamics. 

For Marco who is on the cusp of a career change, the world is a fresh canvas filled with opportunities. He admits that before Jon’s passing, he might have had more anxiety about this next chapter in his life, but now, after everything he’s experienced—the bright and colorful and the dark and grey—he’s ready to take a chance. 

“After you go through losing your half, everything else is so minor,” shares Marco. “My job is very specialized. Not many people in the world can do my job. If I stay in New York, I’m very happy. I have memories here, and I always try to see the positive. I’m very optimistic. I tend to just smile and see where life takes me. But I have no regrets in life. Because I always took the chance.” 

Jon Fraser is remembered by friends and colleagues as a “real man of the theatre.” He was a proud and committed member of ATHE, serving as treasurer for two terms, as well as being active in the playwriting and LGBTQ+ focus groups. After retiring as a professor of theatre, he continued to write plays and screenplays, and became the co-artistic director of New Circle Theatre Company in New York City where he continued to advocate for racial equity. His work is still being produced and performed today, and his Seven Plays anthology can be purchased here