HOUSTON – Losing his four children, along with his grandparents, Belia and Manuel Saldivar, during Hurricane Harvey sent Jason Saldivar into a downward spiral.
“I was depressed,” said Jason Saldivar, of Northeast Houston. “I was staying away from people, shutting people out, started drinking and drugging. That didn't help. It just got me further into my depression.”
The tragedy that struck his family made headlines. On Aug. 27, a van filled with seven relatives fleeing the floodwaters was swept off the road and into Greens Bayou. Inside were Jason's four children, his grandparents and an uncle who was behind the wheel. Only his uncle made it out alive. At the time, Saldivar was behind bars for a parole violation. His mother broke the news by phone.
“I remember crying, thinking this ain't happening, this is not happening,” said Saldivar.
There was a time when remembering his children was too painful. Now it helps him.
“I guess I had to stop and listen and hear my kids' voices speaking to me,” said Saldivar. “My oldest daughter - I hear her as my conscience now. ‘What are you doing? Come on, get up! You can’t lay in bed all day, you can't do this all the time.’ It kind of brought me back.”
Just about everything, Saldivar says, reminds him of his kids now.
Take his 6-year-old Daisy.
“I pass a Shipley's and I hear her say, ‘That's a doughnut, yeah that’s a doughnut,’” he said.
Then, there is 8-year-old Xavier.
“My son loved Legos,” said Saldivar. “Anytime I see a Lego something on TV, I think of him.”
He says his 15-year-old son, Dominic, loved Ninja Turtles, so pizza (the Ninja Turtles' favorite food) makes him think of Dominic.
And 16-year-old Devy loved music.
“She liked old music, like me,” said Saldivar.
Listening to those songs can be soothing and sad at the same time.
Saldivar says his family and prayer have also pulled him through this tragedy.
“I still get blessings from people and prayers from people and people saying, ‘Hey can I stop and pray with you?’ Yes, of course, I invite all of that. That is the thing about God’s grace and his mercy, I love it,” he said.