UVALDE, Texas – For years, Alithia Ramirez’s parents have been saving her drawings.
From animals to anime characters, to personified versions of family pets, to detailed drawings in charcoal -- Ryan Ramirez and Jessica Hernandez say their 10-year-old could sit in her room for hours, drawing picture after picture.
“Just anything that was creative that she could find on YouTube. She would just be there, and she would just draw it. She wouldn’t trace it, but she would take the steps to draw,” Ryan Ramirez said.
Alithia dreamed of being known for her art, her father said, and would even put her work on the online store Etsy.
“She wanted to see, you know, ‘What could I get with this?’ You know, ‘I want people to know -- I want people to have my drawings on the wall,’” Ryan Ramirez said.
Soon, Alithia will get her wish. Ramirez says President Joe Biden and Rep. Tony Gonzalez have asked for some of her work.
But though Ramirez believes “she’s out there excited” that that’s going on, his daughter won’t ever get to visit her artwork hanging on the White House walls.
Alithia, along with 18 of her classmates and two teachers, was murdered by a gunman who stormed into Robb Elementary on May 24 -- one of 21 lives cut far too short.
Sitting in the front room of their Uvalde home, Ramirez and Hernandez are surrounded by pictures of Alithia and her artwork. But even in a home with Alithia’s 5-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother, the loss of her voice among their family of five leaves a hole.
“When we’re all here, it’s just...quiet,” Ramirez said.
“She would always come in the (bedroom), and she would say, ‘Good morning, Mommy. I love you.’ And I said, ‘Good morning, baby. I love you, too,’” Hernandez said. “And it’s just been hard because I’m waiting for her to come and tell me that. And it’s just hard. I just want her back. I miss her.”
Her parents said the fourth-grader was a reliable older sibling, shepherding her younger brother and sister out of the way when her parents needed a hand.
“She would basically get the kids, like, ‘Hey, you know, let’s go to the room. Let’s go draw. Let’s go do this, watch TV.’ You know, she was always there when we needed her,” Ramirez said.
But Ramirez is angry with the police, who he believes should have stopped the gunman sooner. According to a DPS timeline of events, 76 minutes passed between when police officers entered the school and when the shooter was killed.
Though he hopes Alithia’s death was quick and painless, Ramirez also struggles with the possibility that it wasn’t.
“I mean, it’s kind of hard because, I mean, she was probably in pain and probably crying for mom and dad and -- or for help, for any kind of help. And it was 19 kids who didn’t get it. They didn’t get help,” Ramirez said.