Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keep Juanita in your prayers

We have a family friend named Juanita. We definitely consider her a friend, as we have seen her almost weekly for over 2 years now. She is our "regular" evening waitress at Golden Corral. (Yes, we also have a regular afternoon waitress named Vicki.) She is always happy and smiling, she takes great care of us, and we tip her accordingly both because she's good at what she does and because we just flat-out like her. I hadn't seen her in about a month. I was hoping she had just changed shifts or maybe had gotten a new job. She was back today, and we waved at each other from across the restaurant.

She was stationed in a different section than where we usually sit, but she still dropped by our table. DH and Luke were in the restroom, so it was just the two of us. She asked me how we had been, and I said fine. I was tired and fighting a headache, but I was happy to make small talk. Not much going on, just work and such, blah blah. "How are you?" I asked. Okay, she replied. She just didn't seem like herself. She also looked quite a bit thinner than I remembered. "Have you lost weight?" She grimaced a little. Yeah, she said, I've lost quite a bit. I don't know if you noticed that I haven't been here (of course we noticed!). And then she spoke four words that made my heart break.

"I lost my son."

Juanita is the mother of 7, ranging in age from 20 to 8, including a set of twin "tween" girls.

"It was my oldest; he was 20."

I had no idea what to say to her. "I'm so very sorry" was all I could come up with, but that seemed so inadequate for the loss she was clearly still suffering.

"We're doing okay. It's hard. They're still investigating."

That stopped me. Obviously more to the story, but I didn't want to pry. There was no need. The rest just came tumbling out. He had just moved back home after being out on his own for a couple of years and really struggling. He was diagnosed HIV-positive at age 18, which only added to the stress on everyone, but he was finally on meds and starting to pull it together after moving back in. He decided to go away for the weekend with a friend and return the following Monday. He never came back. They found his body in a dumpster, and no sign of the "friend." The investigation is continuing, but she didn't sound very hopeful for a resolution.

And I thought I had no idea what to say earlier. I was totally speechless. I just told her how very sorry we were, and how I sincerely hoped she was doing as okay as she could be, and that I would be praying for her and her family. It was also another reminder to cherish the time you have with those you love, because you just never know when they will be gone. Tell them you love them. Tell them right now. Don't wait.

Currently feeling: so very sad for our friend


  1. Oh, poor Juanita! You see stuff like this on the news, but never expect it to happen to someone you know! We are thinking about her.

  2. I can't imagine what she must be going through. I'll keep her family in my thoughts.

  3. How awful. :( I'll keep your friend in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. I wouldn't have known what to say, either. Oh, that is so terrible. And so terrible how he was found. =( I hope they catch the sorry son of a gun who was responsible!


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