This mother spends time with her son at his tomb on Memorial Days.
After the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at Santa Barbara Cemetery, Dulce Soto soaked in the sun with her son, Jaime Rodriguez.
In 2007, Jaime lost his life at 19 years old while serving in the Army in Iraq.
Ms. Soto and her family spend time with Jaime at his tomb for his birthday, Memorial Day and whenever they miss him.
“I feel his energy, and not just here [at the tomb] but also at the house,” said Ms. Soto, who added that her son was an energetic fellow.
The news of her child’s death brought on a deep grief that blurred from her mind the memory of receiving the tragic news. “I don’t remember it,” Ms. Soto said.
She does remember the moment when Jaime shared with his mother that he would enlist in the Army. “It was his decision, and I supported whatever made him happy,” said Ms. Soto. “But we didn’t expect this.”
The gaping hole left by the loss of a child can seem irreparable, but Ms. Soto believes that the ones left behind can soldier on for those who have gone.
After all, the biggest lesson Ms. Soto has learned from the death of her child is how to survive after the loss of a loved one.
“My family and my two other kids helped me survive,” Ms. Soto said.
More than a decade after Jaime’s passing, remembering her son stirs Ms. Soto’s emotions. Her sunglasses shaded the sorrow in her eyes, but deep sighs escaped her lips when talking to the News-Press about her son.
“It’s the hardest part,” she said, “during taps” – the bugle call played at military funerals.
Since the loss, she and the family have made it a tradition to spend time with Jaime at his tomb. On Monday, Ms. Soto laid down a camping mat and sipped on her coffee while looking out into the mountains. Her sister-in-law and nephews joined her. Jaime’s siblings couldn’t be there because they had work, Ms. Soto said.
She believes other families should echo the tradition of her family and hang out near the tombs of the loved ones. “It’s bittersweet.”