SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In the late hours of Tuesday, January 28, 19-year-old Jaden Hernandez’s life came to an end in a west Abilene parking lot. In the young man’s hometown his mother Jennifer was still asleep – unaware that her life was forever changing just 40 miles down the road.
“I talked to my son at 8:30 on Tuesday when I was leaving for work and I said I’ll see you this afternoon. And never in a million years did I think it’d be the last time I’d say I love you and he’d say it back,” said Jennifer Hernandez, the mother of Jaden Hernandez.
It was the morning of Wednesday, January 29 when Jennifer first began hearing rumors from relatives and her son’s friends that the worst had happened to her son.
“My mind was going a million miles an hour. I needed answers,” said Hernandez.
After multiple phone calls and an in-person visit to the Abilene Police Department, Hernandez finally learned that Jaden had been killed in an alleged robbery at the Little Elm Condominiums in Abilene.
“Those aren’t any words that any mother wants to hear. I was speechless,” said Hernandez.
The news came as a shock to the single mother of three, who had seen her son on the last day he was alive. Jaden originally planned to stay the night at his mother’s home in Sweetwater the same evening that would evidently become his last, but chose to “go back to San Angelo” instead.
His mother now left with some feeling that she could have prevented his murder, even with something as simple as changing what was on the dinner table.
“I was supposed to make meatloaf that night and instead I made beef stew so I keep thinking to myself if I hadn’t made beef stew would he have stayed for dinner?” said Hernandez.
However, with all the ‘what-ifs’ and confusion also came support for the grieving mother and her two remaining children.
“All the phone calls, all the people stopping by. I never in a million years expected – I never expected everything I’ve been receiving,” said the mother.
Along with condolences, Hernandez of course has her memories of her son’s playful personality.
“He was crazy, he was so annoying, he would pick at everyone just to make them laugh I think,” Hernandez said with a small smile.
Her most prized recollection being when Jaden crossed the stage to receive his high school diploma last Spring. A feat Hernandez believes he reached to accomplish to make her proud.
“My best memory of him is when he graduated. I said stay in school whatever you do stay in school,” Hernandez said with tears in her eyes. “He only got to make it to San Angelo and barely registered for school but I am so proud, so proud.”
The mourning mother’s smile reminding us all to appreciate moments we have with those special to us, as it can take just tragic seconds for those moments to become memories.
“My son never knew that tomorrow wasn’t going to come. Tell the people around you that you love them,” said Hernandez.
A memorial basketball tournament will take place Sunday, February 9 benefitting the Hernandez family. For more information on how to join, donate or attend click this link.
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