Holly Carlson met fellow Boober! Juanita Lee at her very first Not Your Typical Support group meeting. Right away Holly realized she and Juanita both saw the humorous side of the world. “The first thing I noticed about Juanita was her amazing sense of humor,” Holly said. “She sat a few people down from me, we got to talking, and that’s all she wrote.”
Holly and Juanita’s friendship quickly grew beyond the regular meetings. In addition to a breast cancer diagnosis, the two also shared careers in education. Holly, a retired French teacher, would often visit Juanita for lunch at the school where she worked as a teacher’s assistant.
Like their students, Holly and Juanita looked forward to taking a break from routine and having fun. They were roomies one summer at a BB! retreat in the Outer Banks and they made the most of their time at the beach, sitting on the shore and laughing as the saltwater splashed their legs before rushing back out to sea. “I don’t know what was so funny,” Holly said, “but we just laughed our heads off.”
Back in Williamsburg the friends would often hop in Holly’s husband’s blue Honda convertible and go for drives along the Colonial Parkway. Their voices mixed with the wind as they sang My Heart Will Go On along with Celine Dion.
Holly and Juanita both enjoyed going to the movies and Holly vividly recalls one day when the two of them went to The Movie Tavern in Williamsburg to watch The Help. Holly, who is white, and Juanita, who was black, spent several hours after the movie discussing race relations. “We were there so long that the movie theater staff cleaned up and started turning off the lights,” Holly said.
Holly was in shock when BB! cofounder Mary Beth Gibson called her on June 25, 2014, to tell her Juanita had passed away. “Mary Beth wanted to be sure I didn’t hear about it on Facebook,” Holly explained. “I was so torn up by Juanita’s death.”
Whenever she thinks of the friendship she and Juanita shared, Holly smiles. “We loved to laugh,” she said. “The kind of laugh where your whole face scrunches up and you have to hold your stomach. Juanita and I had a blast together and I will always miss her.”