Juan didn’t talk about his feelings much. But everyone who knew him thought of him as kind, generous, joyful. They could feel his strong and compassionate heart. Juan joked and laughed. He loved to dance cumbia and cook enormous meals full of delicious food. He was so proud to be a son, a brother, a husband, a grandfather and above all, a devoted father.
Living in the United States was hard for Juan. He went to work, came home, got a few hours of sleep, then went to work again. That was what his family and so many families like his did. Work and sleep and work again. Sending their paychecks back home to help their parents and other siblings. Juan wanted so badly to get his papers so he could go back and see his aging father.
Juan was working two jobs at a restaurant when he got sick. His sister was worried that he looked tired but he showed her his gloves and antibacterial gel. He didn’t want her to worry.
He was only 44 years old. He had so much more to do and dream and say.
Last March on an ordinary Friday, his sister noticed that Juan looked sick. On Saturday night he went into the hospital. By Monday morning he was gone. He had three heart attacks. His heart — his strong, compassionate heart — seized and stopped. Before he could say goodbye. Before he could say anything.
When his granddaughter asks where Juan has gone now, his children point to the wide, calm skies. They share his stories, and hold his memory close.