Remembering Sonia: Reyes family grieves for loss of cherished family member

Michelle Chong, Features Editor

She was a giving woman. A true friend with a kindred spirit—one with an unwavering devotion to her family and friends. She was due to receive a degree in nursing. And most of all, she was a loving mother.

And in a single moment, everything changed for 43 year-old Sonia Sevilla, the younger sister-in-law of former ninth grade secretary Rhonda Reyes.

It was a Sunday morning. A Sunday morning spent sleeping in, simply relaxing, enjoying the last day of the weekend—until a call came. And the call was the last thing Reyes ever expected.

“My husband and I were home asleep on Sunday morning and we got a telephone call from our [other] sister-in-law telling us that my husband’s younger sister was in an auto accident and that she was in critical condition,” Reyes said. “So we did not really know what had happened. It is a six hour drive so he immediately got in the car to drive down and an hour later I was taking my son to feed his animals at the barn. I had tried to call the hospital to find out what condition she was in and that was when I was told that she had passed away.”

Reyes’ younger sister-in-law, Sevilla died on Oct. 29 in the Rio Grande Valley area. She was killed by a drunk driver—a 29-year-old who also happened to be a junior high Theatre Arts teacher. According to The Monitor, the news publication for the Rio Grande Valley, the drunk driver was David Cid. He had been coming home from a nightclub, dressed as a vampire for the Halloween weekend.

Sevilla was a mother of four and a widow. Her husband had passed away five years ago. Sevilla left behind a senior and freshman in high school as well as a fourth and fifth grader. She would have graduated with a degree in nursing in December.

“I was shocked that she had passed away,” Reyes said. “I was angry because of how it happened. The anger hit, in that somebody could do this—take a mother away from her children.Then I thought about the kids, what was going to happen to the kids—those poor kids, what was going to happen to them? Their mom’s gone, they lost their dad five years ago, he died of a seizure. So what is going to happen to the kids? My husband was on his way down, I could not do anything because I was at home. I felt like I needed to be there, but I could not be there. It was just a tremendous loss.”

Sevilla had struggled for many years as a single mother. Right after she graduated high school, instead of going to college, she chose to stay home and take care of her mother. According to Reyes, in high school, Sevilla was a very smart student with straight A’s.

“She took care of her mother for many years before [her mother] passed away,” Reyes said. “And then she got married and had kids, she worked in a warehouse where they packaged frozen foods. She worked there with her husband for years together and they struggled. They never had a lot of money. They struggled and worked for everything they had.”

When Sevilla’s husband passed away, she decided to go back to school and pursue a career in nursing.

“It would have taken two years and this would have been the end,” Reyes said. “She was on this fast track. I cannot even imagine what kind of nurse she would have been. She would have been a tremendous nurse. And for that to be cut short—it just seems like such a loss.”

Sevilla had been returning from a friend’s house and her sister was home, watching Sevilla’s children. While driving down the interstate, she was hit from behind, and her car spun out of control.

The police had difficulty retrieving Sevilla out of the damaged vehicle. When they finally did, it was too late. Reyes most of all would like Cid to understand the severity of his actions.

“They have already lost their father and now their mother and it is his fault that their mother’s gone now,” Reyes said. “So I feel like he needs to know these kids, he needs to know what he has done, he needs to see what his actions have caused. He chose to drink and he chose to drive and in doing so, he took the life of another. So I know everybody says he will have his day in court and that his punishment will be put on him—but his punishment needs to be watching these kids grow up without their mother.”

Sevilla’s children currently live with Reyes and her husband, who assumed legal guardianship. The Reyes family has three children of their own and with a total of seven children in her house, she resigned in November as the ninth grade secretary in order to dedicate more time at home.

But even so, Reyes is determined to keep the memory of their mother alive, especially so the youngest does not forget her.

“I want them to remember everything,” Reyes said. “I find myself saying ‘well your mom would say this’ or ‘your mom would do this.’ Because I want to make sure they remember things. I encourage them to put pictures on the walls because our house is their house now.”

In response to the unfortunate circumstances, the Katy-Cinco community rallied together to support the Reyes and Sevilla families. Everything, from monetary support to food was given.

“Anything I need I know I can call someone and they are going to help me,” Reyes said. “I did not expect it, because when it first happened I thought ‘Oh ok well I guess we will just do this on our own.’ People that I have not talked to in years have called and said ‘Hey I heard what happened, I am very sorry, how can I help? What do you need, we will do it.’ The community has been overwhelming with its support.”

Reyes is grateful for the support of the community and she hopes for a better future for her family. Reyes’ top priorities include making sure each of the children in her household get their education and ensuring that they are in a loving home. As for her, the grieving process is just beginning.

“The grieving process is an ongoing process and it just lasts for a very long time,” Reyes said. “You never actually get over a thing like this. I believe you learn to handle it better as time goes on, but it is always going to be grief, you are always going to have that grief in your life. What I take away from this is: take it one day at a time.”

Reyes and Sevilla were close sister-in-laws. They joked together often and shared many things with each other. The funeral for Sevilla was held on the following Wednesday, Nov. 2 after she had passed away.

According to Reyes, the funeral was a moving service. The many people Sevilla had made friends with and even acquaintances,came in throughout the day to pay their respects.

“It was a beautiful funeral service,” Reyes said. “When her husband passed away, she already had her name put on [the tombstone]. So she already knew where she wanted to be buried. It was just a very moving service. To see all of the people there, you only hope when that happens to you [that] you have that many people there. It really shows you what kind of person she was.”

Despite their parents’ deaths, each of the Sevilla children embody a bit of their parents’ personalities.

“Juan is the oldest child and when you see him he is always smiling and that is how his dad was; he was always smiling,” Reyes said. “His name was Juan also. He [took] things in stride and what happens, happens. [Their dad] loved his kids. The kids look like both of [their parents].”