A mum eventually forgave her husband after he forgot to drop their twin off at nursery – and left them in a scorching hot car while he went to work.
Marissa Quattrone Rodriguez said her world ended when husband Juan Rodriguez told her the news in July 2019 that her children had died.
"The moment I heard the news, I honestly could not believe what Juan was telling me was real," she said.
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"I could tell how much panic and pain was in his voice, but I just couldn’t bring myself to believe it."
Marissa said that everything in her life is now divided into “before and after the twinkies passed”.
Luna and Phoenix were just one when their dad neglected to drop them off at nursery before heading off for a day of work in New York, where he counselled disabled veterans at a hospital.
He instead left the babies in the car, where soaring temperatures eventually killed the boy and girl duo.
Marissa was at work when Juan called her and asked her to pick up the kids – a pretty common request among the couple.
"I said no problem, and carried on with my work," Marissa recalls.
But before she left from work, Juan glanced in the rear view mirror of his Honda Sedan following his shift and saw that he’d never dropped the babies off at childcare.
"I was on a work-related call, when he called back just a moment later, so I missed his call. But I saw he left a message, which he never does, and then he called me again. Clearly it was an emergency.
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"I answered that time to hear him repeatedly say: 'My love, oh my God, my love… I killed the babies'.
"He said the same thing over and over. And I just kept saying 'no, no, no. It’s not true'."
Marissa rushed to the scene, where she found the street blocked off with caution tape and Juan being arrested.
She wasn't allowed near the family car, but she spotted an ambulance driving away from the scene.
"I asked if they [Luna and Phoenix] were in there," she said. "They were not, which I knew, but just couldn’t believe it. I wanted so much to think there was some hope. I never knew about this before."
After the babies' deaths, Marissa struggled to go on.
She added: "All my hopes and dreams for them, for our family, for my son to grow up with siblings close in age to him, for their beautiful, bright futures.
"I struggled with my desire to stay here on earth for a while."
Marissa and Juan, who managed to stay together following the tragedy, have tried to make life "normal" for their family, including their now six-year-old son.
Immediately following the unfortunate incident, however, the couple struggled to make a relationship work, with Marissa even leaving their family home for a period of time after Juan was released from jail on suicide watch.
Now they have reconciled – but their relationship will never be the same.
"I realised Juan and I grieve in very different ways. I like to look at photos of happier times. He does not," Marissa shared before admitting there are "many other differences" in the way the couple deal with the tragedy.
Now, Marissa is campaigning for the implementation of a Hot Car Act in the US, which would see all new vehicles equipped with technology that detects if someone is still inside after the engine is switched off.
If so, an alert would be sent to the driver and others close to the car, in the hopes that injuries and death by heatstroke could be prevented.
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