Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: From the heart

Posted March 20

I've stood here more times than I can count - in front of a parent who has lost a child to a violent act.

You would think that after more than a quarter century of doing this job, I would be able to compartmentalize my feelings when I talked to grieving parents. But those of us who are parents know that there is no greater tragedy than losing a child. While I haven't been in their shoes, I walk with them in the sheer imagination of what it would be like to lose my own child.

Allan Rodriguez was a single dad for most of his son's upbringing. The two looked so much alike, people often mistook them for brothers. So, when his son and 25-year-old namesake, Allan Uriel Rodriguez, was found dead in a car with his friend in front of a Raleigh restaurant 10 days ago, it felt like he had lost a limb.

"I cry. It's so painful. We are not prepared for this as parents," Rodriguez told me.

It was the little things he remembered about his son - how he would play peek-a-boo with the dog in the window from the outside of the house; how he would tease his younger half-brother and half-sister, chasing them around and scooping them up in his arms; how he loved and hugged his stepmother; and how he told his father recently he had Jesus in his heart.

"That stayed with me," Rodriguez said with tears in his eyes of his recent conversation with his son about faith.

It's the last part that gives Rodriguez some comfort despite his tremendous loss. He is not angry at the people who took his son's life. He says he has forgiven them. He thanks God for the time he did have his son – his best friend, his business partner, his twin.

"Thank you Lord for giving me a son. I wish I had him for longer."

Juana Reyes thought she could talk to me, but it was difficult. She kept breaking down in tears. Her son, 25-year-old Pedro "Joel" Reyes Diaz, was also found dead in the car on Glenwood Avenue.

Clearly, he was the center of her universe.

"He was kind. He knew no limits in friendship," said Reyes, who recalled the thousands who attended his funeral. "Every time I spoke with him he said: 'Mommy, I love you.'"

She proudly showed me a folder of the certificates he had earned - high school graduation, training to be a mechanic, as an aspiring musician. She also showed me a collage of photographs of her handsome son made by his friends to remember him at his funeral.

She told me she raised him to be a good man, to get an education, to work hard and, most of all, to always love his family and respect where he came from. And while she also forgives the people who took her son's life because she is a Christian, she is still seeking answers.

"Why did you take my baby's life?" she moans, clutching a throw pillow in her lap and leaning forward as if she is being stabbed in the gut. "Only God knows. You will have to pay for that."

She believes that her son is in heaven and that she will see him again. For now, a world without him seems like an impossibly cold place.

"I don't know how I will do it," Reyes said, shaking her head as I rubbed her shoulder, not knowing what to say.

"Life is temporary," Rodriguez said. "Love your kids every single day. Tell them you love them. Hug them."

So, I stand here again, where I have been so many times before, yet each time is different because each child represents an individual story of someone's heart that has been torn in a way that can never truly be repaired.

Love your children.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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