After a Summer of Grief, It’s Back to School in Uvalde

Gladys Castillon said her 10-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, who was a fourth grader at Robb Elementary on the day of the shooting, still wakes up in tears and is afraid to leave the house. She and her classmates turned off the lights and hid in a classroom near where the gunman was shooting until they were evacuated.

Therapy has not helped Kaitlyn, Ms. Castillon said. “She said that every time she talks about that subject, she feels like her heart is going to explode,” she said. “I will give her the time she needs until she is ready.”

Ms. Rubio said she understood that not every family was ready for the new school year. Her family keeps pushing forward, she said, by remembering that school was so important to Lexi. Her daughter was only in fourth grade, she said, but already had a life plan: earning a softball scholarship to attend St. Mary’s University, where she planned to major in math and then attend law school.

After the shooting, the Rubios testified before Congress to plead for stricter gun laws, including raising to 21 the minimum age to buy automatic weapons. More recently, they joined an organization of grieving family members known as Uvalde Strong for Gun Safety, which is pressing elected officials in Texas to enact stronger gun control and school safety measures.

A few weeks ago, the Rubios moved to a spacious four-bedroom, two-story house to be closer to their children’s school. Their former home carried too many painful memories, especially for Jahleela, who had shared a room with Lexi. In the days following the shooting, Jahleela had tried rooming with her 14-year-old brother, “but that didn’t go well,” Ms. Rubio said with a smile.

“It was difficult for everybody,” she said.

Lexi’s spirit is never too far away. A shrine near the front door features a large portrait of her, a wooden crucifix with her name on it, and a box containing flowers and a rosary from her funeral, with an inscription: “God will hold your hand until I see you there.”

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