Things That Matter

‘I Lost a Piece of My Heart’: What Back to School Looks Like for Uvalde Parents

The Uvalde massacre undoubtedly left an indelible scar on our entire nation, claiming the lives of 19 elementary school students and two teachers. Occurring at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, the shooting came as a shock to the entire world — and would change the lives of the victims’ families forever.

Months later, some of the survivors of the shooting have decided to go back to school, while other students and parents alike see online learning as the only option for them going forward.

It’s easy to see why: one Uvalde parent Tina Quintanilla-Taylor explained to the New York Times, “Nobody feels safe going back to school,” even if the original school building is now permanently closed.

Of course, the victims’ families are still reeling over the tragic loss, and many parents continue to share just how deep their heartbreak is — with no sign of it subsiding. Kimberly Garcia, mother of 10-year-old student victim Amerie Jo Garza, took to Twitter to share her immense grief and talk about the decision-making process for sending her son back to school this year or not. 

Garcia wrote, “I get asked a lot if my son is going to school this year. How am I supposed to get my son ready, drop him off at school, and just LEAVE HIM there?” As the heartbroken mother puts it, “I did that with my daughter and now I will never see her again. Absolutely not, there’s no way.” 

As one user replied to the mother’s tweet, “I wouldn’t either in your position. No way,” while another simply wrote, “Words truly fail me. Truly,” it’s clear Garcia’s tweet struck a chord with many. 

Garcia also recently posted a photo on Twitter of her daughter Amerie’s grave, writing, “You should be on your way to 5th grade today. It kills me that you won’t ever get to experience that.”

Meanwhile, Amerie’s father Alfred Garza III has spoken out about the police response to the shooting, which has been deemed an “abject failure,” leading to the firing of Uvalde schools’ police chief Pete Arredondo. Garza stated, “They can sit there and point fingers at everybody else and say that they weren’t responsible… They were there, too, and they didn’t do sh*t.” 

Uvalde mother Evadulia Orta has also posted her own experience with grief on her Twitter account, commemorating the life of her late son, 10-year-old Rojelio Torres. The mother tweeted a video reel of several special moments with her son, which included the text: “Today is 3 months without my son Rojelio Torres and we love you & miss you so much.”

Orta is particularly active on TikTok, where she has also posted several videos of her late son, such as one especially-heartbreaking video that reads: “I miss my son Rojelio he would’ve been in the 5th grade today.” 

Several users have taken to the platform to lend Orta their support, such as one person who commented, “As a mom, My heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry for this horrific event you had to endure. I pray God heals your heart and mind. Rip to ur baby boy.”

Orta has also been vocal with several news outlets, telling ABC News: “Losing that little piece of my heart, I lost my son… He was happy, he was helpful… He was loving, caring.” Her other son was also present at the school when the shooting happened, surviving it without his brother.  

Vicente Salazar, the grandfather of 11-year-old Uvalde victim Layla Salazar, talked about the shooting response at the Uvalde Civic Center: “Texas failed the students. Law enforcement failed the students.” 

Meanwhile, Kimberly and Felix Rubio lost their daughter Lexi, 10, to the shooting, and have since described their intense anguish and grief. The parents sat down with NPR to talk about the horrifying ordeal, with the father describing his daughter as: “A quiet child, shy, smart, appreciative of life and anything that comes her way.”

Kimberly Rubio told the outlet, “It’s difficult. I feel like the kids have changed. It’s – we’re not the same. We’re missing her. And so we’re just – we’re broken,” while also admitting she is unsure if she has “accepted it” yet.

The grieving mother took to her own Twitter account to share a photo of her daughter, captioning it with, “I don’t know how to live without you, baby. And honestly, I don’t even want to.” 

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