Mother of drown­ing vic­tim speaks out

Com­mu­nity, busi­nesses lend a sup­port­ive hand

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ju­lia Perkins

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

Ju­lia Perkins / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

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.

Ju­lia Perkins / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

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.

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