(UVALDE, Texas) — Nearly 10 months after 19 Robb Elementary School students and two teachers were killed in one of the worst mass shootings in the country’s history, mothers of those victims told ABC News their anguish hasn’t gone away.
Veronica Mata, Ana Rodriguez, Kimberley Rubio and Gloria Cazares said while nothing can fill the void left by their daughters’ murders, the mothers said they have forged a new bond helping each other through some of their darkest moments.
“There are a lot of times that we feel alone. You know, even if there are 100 people in the room you still feel alone. But I don’t feel that when I’m with them,” Cazares told Nightline.
Nightline spoke with the mothers about their unexpected friendship and how they’ve been helping each other keep the memories of their children alive.
The mothers have spent a lot of time together, eating dinners, laughing and remembering their daughters.
Mata, who lost her daughter Tess in the May 24th shooting said that it feels hard for her anytime an extended period goes by when she doesn’t speak with the other mothers.
“I think because I feel that connection with them because of the girls and I feel like if I don’t talk to them, like, I’m missing a part of Tess,” she told Nightline.
Rubio, who lost her daughter Lexi, and Rodriguez, whose daughter Maite was killed in the shooting, said that it’s been easier to confide in one another about their grief than with others.
“Outside my husband and my children, these are the only people I talk to about this,” Rubio said.
“My family is completely understanding. They’ve supported me 100%. However, they have not lost a child. I know I’ve had Kim message me out of the blue, ‘Thinking of you. I love you,’ and she has no idea how much that– that helped me,” Rodriguez said.
On days when they have little to look forward to, the mothers said they find strength when they walk through Uvalde and see how the community has rallied behind the families.
The mothers have frequently visited the murals of their daughters that were painted by a variety of Texas artists shortly after the tragedy.
“‘I love you to the moon and back,’ that’s just what we’ve always said,” Cazares, whose daughter Jackie was shot in the massacre, said as she passed by Jackie’s mural with the group.
“If I have to go somewhere it’s the murals because there’s a little bit of joy,” Rubio said. “They’re beautiful.”
The group has also spent the past 10 months demanding justice for their daughters and other Robb Elementary School victims alongside other families who have lost loved ones to mass shootings.
Cazares added during rare moments of joy and laughter there is always a lingering a sense of guilt.
“Our kids aren’t here. They don’t get to enjoy what they used to enjoy. They’re not– some of the things that we do we shouldn’t be doing without them. No, they should be here to enjoy them too,” she said.
“I never thought I would smile again after she passed. I remember telling my mom, ‘How could I ever laugh again? How could I ever find happiness or joy in anything?"” Rodriguez said.
While their lives are forever changed, the mothers said they are grateful that they found each other.
“I feel like this relationship [among] all of us, even…with some of the other moms it’s going to be a life-long relationship that we’re always going to have because we all have that one common denominator,” Mata said.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.