Sopheavy Meth now runs Ormond Beach's Java Junction, virtually alone, after her husband's death.
On Nov. 13, 2020, Samnang In lost his life to COVID-19. He was only 41 years old. He had big plans for himself. Big plans for his family. He was getting his law degree and wanted to be an attorney so his wife would not have to work so hard. He had asked his wife to move back to Cambodia but the mysterious virus that shutdown Wuhan, China, had finally made its way to the United States, and his wife summoned him back before the lockdown in March.
“We were so careful. My husband used gloves, hand sanitizer and bleach. He would sanitize the bags and the groceries before he brought them in the house. We were so unlucky."
Samnang continued his education online as the pandemic raged throughout Florida. The state began its phases of reopening, and the family, including his mother-in-law and father-in-law who had moved from Cambodia to the United States in 2016, began to return to work. Even though they were hyper vigilant about following the CDC rules concerning the virus, both Samnang and his father-in-law were diagnosed with COVID on Nov. 3.
“We were so careful," Sopheavy Meth said. "My husband used gloves, hand sanitizer and bleach. He would sanitize the bags and the groceries before he brought them in the house. We were so unlucky."
Sopheavy, called Sophia by her customers, is now the sole owner of Java Junction in Ormond Beach. She and her husband bought the doughnut and coffee shop in 2017 following the sale of their Holly Hill location. Due to the financial burden COVID has placed on small businesses, she is also the only one working in the store six days a week and closing two days a week at the Holly Hill store.
Following her husband’s death, she made a decision to cut back one day so she could spend time with her 4-year-old son, Lincoln. Money is even tighter now, and sometimes the bills do not get paid on time, but she knows it is important for her to be there for him. He misses his daddy.
The father and son duo bonded in 2018 when Samnang was forced to convalesce due to a heart attack. He spent his days teaching Lincoln a diverse curriculum of reading, writing, history and Cambodian. The toddler quickly absorbed his lessons and began to read with fluidity by the age of 2 1/2. Ask him who the 16th president of the United States was and he will clearly state his namesake. He can recite all of the presidents' names and where they fall numerically.
Always the advocate for higher education, Samnang paid for approximately 10 family members to attend college including siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. His untimely death left one unfulfilled promise to pay, but Sopheavy has vowed to honor her husband’s pledge: She recently contacted his grandniece, reassuring her that she will find a way to pay for her college tuition.
“He was so good. I lost my goodhearted guy,” Sopheavy said, as her eyes filled with tears.