UVALDE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – In the days and weeks following the fatal shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, mother Ana Rodriguez struggled to find answers through her daughter’s shoes.
His daughter, Maite Rodriguez, 10, was one of 21 people killed in the May 24 massacre. She was identified only by her pair of size five green Converse with a heart drawn on the left toe.
Those same shoes are now nationally recognized after actor Matthew McConaughey used a replica pair to symbolize the damage during a White House briefing on June 7.
“It was the same green Converse on his feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify him after the shooting,” he said.
Rodriguez said when she saw McConaughey had the shoes with him at the White House, she thought and spoke to Maite.
“I was thinking about her and saying, ‘Look how far you’ve come.’ I thought those shoes – right now – mean so much and are so important and they’re so central to what’s happened here,” she said.
Maite found the sneakers while the two were out shopping, something her mother said turned into a new activity through which they would bond.
“We were at a local shoe store here and she wanted Converse,” Rodriguez recalled. “She saw these lime green Converse on the bottom shelf and they were on sale, so she said, ‘Look mom, look at those shoes. I found Converse,” and I said, “Well, let’s see if they fit you,” and they were his size. They were his exact size.”
Two days later, Rodriguez said he saw his daughter sporting a freshly drawn heart on her toe.
“I said, ‘Maite, why did you draw a heart on your shoes? I just got them for you,’ and she was like, ‘Just because I really like them,'” he said. she says.
The heart, Rodriguez believes, speaks to Maite’s gentle nature.
“She was just a sweet girl. My sweet girl, that’s what I called her — my sweet girl,” Rodriguez said. “She was smart, beautiful and above all, she was my best friend, and I’m not exaggerating on that. She was my best friend. We went everywhere together.”
Together they planned to visit Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Maite’s dream school where she hoped to become a marine biologist.
“It started in kindergarten. She couldn’t even say marine biologist yet…I thought over time she’d change her mind; she’ll want to be a nurse or something when she grows up. Hey well, she never changed her mind,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to keep cheering her on, you know, maybe if she saw college or university, the ocean, it would keep making her even harder.”
The university has since unveiled the Maite Yuleana Rodriguez Scholarship, which will be awarded to a Uvalde student pursuing a degree in marine biology.
“I remember saying to him, ‘Maite, you are going to help so many students and you still achieve so much even after life.’ I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
And despite her grief, Rodriguez says she refuses to let her daughter’s death be in vain.
“It’s unbearable. Unimaginable. Excruciatingly painful. A feeling of emptiness, just emptiness, anger, disbelief. You miss your child every day,” she said. “It’s things like that and my boys that I have to get up. I have to get up and I have to keep pushing.”
Going forward, Rodriguez is asking people to support his community and get out and vote.
“Support. People in Texas, people across the United States – support. Vote, fight for these kids because today was mine, tomorrow it could be yours,” she said. declared.
When asked why she chose to speak with CBS 11, Rodriguez said she “finally” wants to push for tougher gun laws and find answers.
“I want answers as to why this police department did what it did or why it didn’t do what it was supposed to do. I know [by] lay still in the comfort of my home just mourn my daughter, I’m not doing my part and not doing her justice by doing this,” she said.
But still, every day is a battle for the mum as she navigates life without her daughter and her best friend by her side.
“I still ask him every day, I ask him to come back,” Rodriguez said. “I ask him for the unimaginable but sometimes I just can’t take the pain and ask him to come back to me. And I’m just like, ‘Please, I’ll do anything. Just come back. ‘”