LA VERNIA — From the day Therese and Richard Rodriguez were married in 2006, they were inseparable. Last Sunday, they died together.

In these tragic circumstances, family found comfort in that.

“What a perfect way for them to leave this world,” said Regina Rodriguez, Richard’s daughter at the couple’s funeral Saturday afternoon.

The Rodriguezes were two of the 26 killed at the First Baptist Church last week in the largest mass shooting in recent Texas history.

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Media: San Antonio Express-News

At the funeral services, family and friends — even those who were strangers to each other — embraced, held hands, and exchanged whispered words of strength.

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“It has been a very, very difficult week,” said Pastor Erin Weaver to the nearly 100 people who had come to pay their respects to the Rodriguezes at Grace Bible Church in La Vernia.

One woman lingered at Therese’s casket. When she turned away, she covered her shaking lips with her hand, muffling sounds of anguish. She collapsed in another’s open arms.

In the slide show before the services, guests saw a photo of Richard, as his friends and family called him, holding his newborn in his arms, the child barely larger than his hand.

They also saw one of a younger Therese, her hair in a short wavy bob, long necklaces draping over her shoulders.

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And then there were many of the two together: on their wedding day, behind frosted birthday cakes, and one close-up of the two just smiling at the camera, Therese's head resting on Ricardo's shoulder.

Around 2 p.m. the lights of the church dimmed and the shadows of the crosses on the wall grew. Weaver gave an opening prayer, and Martin Bencik sang “I can only Imagine.”

Relatives of the couple then took turns remembering them, offering colorful anecdotes about Therese’s love of thrift shopping and how Richard would dance with his daughter Regina to the 8-tracks he played in the living room.

“They stuck together like glue. Wherever he went, she was there, too,” Kie Sagan, Theresa’s older brother, said to the Express-News earlier this week.

Therese’s family, the Sagans, had faced darkness before. They fled Germany during World War II, and, finding themselves in freezing cold weather when they arrived on Ellis Island, they took the first train out to go as far south as they could go — and ended up in Texas, Weaver said.

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At the conclusion of the services, there was a procession to the Sutherland Springs Cemetery nearby. Upon the Rodriguezes interment, the family released a multitude of bright balloons, which floated up into the gray evening sky.

“It’s one step at a time, and today is another step,” Weaver had said. “it’s a big one, it’s a hard one, but you’re not alone.”

Sfosterfrau@express-news.net |@SilviaElenaFF