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Janet Gonzalez, 60s: Juanes' 'A Dios Le Pido'

Courtesy of Julie Seda

Updated June 15, 2021 at 1:17 PM ET

More than 600,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

"A Dios le Pido" by Juanes was her favorite song of all. She mumbled it daily with great joy. The song says, "I ask God that should I die, let it be of love or because of love." This song is about asking God to make a life meaningful and a death meaningful. Janet did that for me. She started working for me around the house when I was working long hours. She then helped me take care of my Godmother who was sick and she took care of her with love, compassion, and dignity. I owe her the world for that. And when I listen to this song, I think of Janet's contribution to my life and how she would love for more people to know and sing this song and for her children, Yanira and Jan, that she lived and died loving them deeply and carelessly, just like "A Dios le Pido" says. We spoke Dece. 19 and she was fine. She was gone due to COVID-19 on Dec. 31.

Janet's real name was Sofia. She worked cleaning and cooking all her life. She made the most delicious traditional Puerto Rican food. She was a wonderful friend who just expected respect and appreciation. When I hear this song, I think how incredibly grateful I am to have met her because our 20-year friendship taught me that how people treat each other is more important than what they do or don't do. And while all our days are counted, when I hear this song, I think that we can make a difference one life at a time just as Janet did with the people she helped. She was loved by her neighbors and her children buried her as she wanted. However, her daughter cried to me as she mentioned that so many of her peers died of violence ... Janet lived in Santurce [Puerto Rico] in a neighborhood filled with violence and she was grateful for the love she gave and received. So, this song also means to me you can make a choice to love. Heaven has an angel singing and mumbling "A Dios Le Pido." —Julie Seda, friend

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