Carmela Cruz, 42, has been the manager at Grocery Outlet on South Van Ness near 24th Street for four years. Before that, she worked for three years at the Grocery Outlet near her house in Visitacion Valley.
Professionally, the pandemic has been hard, but as we talk, it becomes clear that the personal has been devastating. Her eldest son, 20-year-old Alejandro Fuentes, died in his sleep suddenly on January 7. He would have been 21 on January 29. He had complained of feeling tired, fell asleep on the couch of a friend’s house and did not wake up.
Cruz says the doctors confirmed he tested positive for Covid-19, but she is waiting a a final autopsy report from the Medical Examiner, a process that will take four or five months, she was told.
Her son had been working security at California Pacific Medical Center Hospital on Castro Street, checking people’s temperature as they came to the location for medical care.
Cruz took about a month off work to stay home after his death, and then went back to work at Grocery Outlet.
“I didn’t want to go into his room when I was home, and all I could do at home was think.”
“People told me I had to go on for my other two children,” so Cruz pushed forward and went back to work at Grocery Outlet. At work, when memories of her son come up, she steps into the office to cry.
Read more essential memories here.