Mother of drowning victim speaks out
Community, businesses lend a supportive hand
NEW MILFORD — On the morning of Memorial Day, Eliane DaSilva told her son she was concerned about his trip to Candlewood Lake with his friends.
Joshua DaSilva, 17, looked at her, smiled and told her not to worry, his mother recalled.
“Everything will be fine,” he said. “I will be back later.”
He obeyed his mother’s request to get the cooler and his little brother into her car. Then, he told her to have a fun day, hugged her and said he loved her, Eliane DaSilva recalled.
It would be their last conversation.
That afternoon, Joshua DaSilva went missing while swimming with his friends near Dike Point Recreation Area.
His friends tried to rescue him, and police were called. Crews searched for him until his body was pulled from the water on Wednesday. The autopsy report is still being studied, but it appears he drowned.
“I would do anything to have him back,” Eliane DaSilva said as she held back tears in her New Milford home hours before his memorial Monday evening. “I would trade my life for his life, but God didn’t give me this option.”
The two had a “soul bond”—a relationship deeper than mother and son, Eliane DaSilva said. He could tell whether she had a good or bad day by the way she opened the door, she said.
“He was my soul,” said DaSilva, a single mother. “He knew everything about me, and he was the perfect child.”
The Henry Abbott Technical High School student was so smart he barely needed to study, his mother said.
“He was a genius in math,” she said.
He enjoyed basketball, video games and was one step away from earning his black belt in martial arts. He loved pizza, Oreo milkshakes from Carvel and the No. 1 meal at McDonald’s “with a large Coke, please,” said Eliane DaSilva, imitating the way her son would order.
He was so obedient and helpful with his younger sister and brother that she could never say “no” to him, his mother said. He didn’t drink alcohol, smoke or party, she said.
“I never had a headache with him,” she said.
But he was “lazy and messy,” she said.
She used to trip over his boots when she walked through the door and find his backpack and school things all over the bathroom. She had wished he would learn to clean up after himself.
Now, she wants the mess back.
“I miss all of this,” she said. “I miss everything.”
His normally disorganized bedroom was almost bare Monday afternoon. Folded laundry sat in a laundry basket in the corner, while a basketball trophy was near his bed. The Brazilian flag and some photos, including from his first Easter and his preschool graduation, hung on the walls.
For Eliane DaSilva, losing her son feels like all her bones are breaking, she said. She has leaned on the support of her friends and the community, including those at Faith Church in New Milford.
Nearly $30,000 have been raised for the family for funeral and other expenses through a GoFundMe page. Businesses, such as Costco and Stew Leonard’s, covered the cost of food after Monday’s services, Eliane DaSilva said.
She said she has been stunned by this support.
“It is amazing how you can see the hands of God in your worst, dark moments,” she said.
A collage with photos of Joshua DaSilva and handmade cards from those who loved him lined the living room.
“If anything makes this time less painful, it is all those cards,” Eliane DaSilva said.
The cards remind her how many people love her son and of her success as a single mother.
“I raised a very honest and decent human being,” she said, sniffling as she looked at the cards. “I raised a boy I can be proud of for the rest of my life. I raised a boy who touched so many lives.”
“I raised a very honest and decent human being. I raised a boy I can be proud of for the rest of my life. I raised a boy who touched so many lives.” Eliane DaSilva
Eliane DaSilva, mother of 17-year-old Joshua DaSilva, who drowned in Candlewood Lake on Memorial Day, center, with her friend, Edna de Souza, left, and her friend, Marcelle Trevizani. The three stand in the living room of DaSilva's New Milford home on Monday.
Eliane DaSilva, mother of 17-year-old Joshua DaSilva, below, who drowned in Candlewood Lake on Memorial Day, sits in the living room of her New Milford home on Monday and looks at one of the cards given to her after her son’s death. Below right, an old card Joshua made for his mom for Mother’s Day when he was 4.