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7/7 one year later: Zamarripa family remembers pain of burying a son

The days since July 7, 2016, have been filled with a profound emptiness that Patrick Zamarripa's parents try to fill by surrounding themselves with reminders of their son.

It's a trip he wishes he didn't have to make; a routine that is anything but that for this grieving dad.

But the regular visits Rick Zamarripa makes to the DFW National Cemetery to visit his son's headstone are what keep him going.

"The first few months, the first three months, I was here every day," Rick said.

He said it was the only way he could cope with the unexpected and incomprehensible death of his son, Patrick Zamarripa, a Navy veteran and a Dallas Police officer, who was killed in the ambush on July 7, 2016. He was 32.

"I come up here and I talk to Patrick," Rick said of his trips to the cemetery. "I don't think it'll ever stop."

Patrick Zamrripa's father, Rick

Patrick's mother, Valerie, still remembers the last conversation she had with her son. It was July 7, before his shift.

"I said 'You be safe. I love you.' 'I love you too, Ma,’ [he replied]," she recalled. "So I got to tell him on that day."

Her days since July 7, 2016, have been filled with a profound emptiness she tries to fill by surrounding herself with reminders of her son, whether that's visiting his old haunts or doing things that made him happy, like going to Rangers games.

It's all she can do to keep it together.

"Raising my three kids was hard. Toughest thing I've ever had to do in my life. But burying one was even tougher," Valerie said.

Patrick Zamarippa's mother, Valerie

Both of Patrick's parents say they're bracing themselves for the one-year mark of the ambush. It's a day that will undoubtedly bring back memories of the worst night of their lives.

"On that day, wear a ribbon for them. Or if you have a shirt, wear a shirt,” Valerie said. “But please, never ever forget them. And please pray for them always.”

They'll continue to find ways to honor their Patrick every July 7, and all the days in between.

Patrick Zamarripa's father, Rick, at his son's grave