Mother struggles with grief, guilt over children's drowning
June 1, 2011 at 1:01 a.m.
Updated June 2, 2011 at 1:02 a.m.
Life continues around Cecilia Espindola - the 5 p.m. rush-hour traffic speeds down East Airline Road just feet away.
The hurrying cars resonate life, drivers with places to go and people to see.
But Espindola is at a standstill, stuck at 9 a.m. Monday, the day she and her husband found their only two children - 3-year-old Sage Rodriguez and 2-year-old Ramon Rodriguez Jr. - drowned in their new family pool in Goliad.
"I feel it's my fault," the 22-year-old mother said with a surge of tears running down her cheeks. "I can't let them go."
The family had moved to Goliad two weeks ago to start a new life in a safe small town, Espindola said.
That morning, Espindola woke up with the kids and popped in the movie "The Santa Clause 2." The three were watching the movie, and shortly before 9 a.m., Espindola inadvertently dozed off, she said.
Espindola's husband came home at 9 a.m.
"Where's my babies?" he yelled out.
This was something he always did, Espindola said.
She woke up in a panic. Her kids weren't by her side.
And she almost immediately knew where to go.
Outside, she cracked open the gate to the pool.
"There they were, side by side, face up," Espindola said shaking her head still in disbelief. "To me, it feels like I'm in a dream. It's not a dream."
Espindola and her husband performed CPR. Her son looked helpless, she said. Her daughter, foaming at the mouth.
Paramedics rushed the children to DeTar Hospital Navarro, where they were pronounced dead.
The drownings were ruled accidental by the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office on Tuesday.
Though it's difficult, Espindola is hanging on to the time their family did have with her children.
For now, the little memories, like how the two enjoyed watching SpongeBob SquarePants, bring all tears and no smiles.
Sage was about to be registered for Head Start. Ramon Jr. had started potty training.
The pain is like no other. The deaths are still sinking in, she said.
"I'm only 22 years old, and I'm going through this," she said.
Espindola's father is taking the deaths extremely hard, she said. Sage was his first granddaughter and Ramon Jr. was his big boy.
Grandpa's love was as clear as the pajamas Ramon Jr. was last wearing.
"Spoiled By Grandpa," the pajama bottoms read, Espindola said.
The children were cremated. The urns containing their ashes serve as a constant reminder that their children are still there in spirit, Espindola said.
The family has no other choice but to push on and keep the memories of their two babies alive.
They have received an outpouring of support from family and friends, many who had gathered at the house on Airline Road on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's so weird, I didn't think we were going to have this much support," she said. "It was God's will."