Son pays emotional tribute to mother who died trying to save him during Orlando attack

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(CNN) In the ultimate expression of maternal instinct, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool put her son’s life before her own.

As gunshots rang out at the Pulse nightclub, McCool flung herself over her son, shielding him from the two bullets that would put an end to her life.

It was at her funeral Monday that Isaiah Henderson, 21, broke down as he paid a touching tribute to his mother — the two-time survivor of cancer and a true fighter.

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool died while trying to save her son during the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (Photo: Glamour)
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool died while trying to save her son during the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (Photo: Glamour)

Standing in the First United Methodist Church of Orlando, at a pulpit adorned with McCool’s portrait, Henderson delivers a powerful eulogy that characterizes both the tragic loss and eternal gratitude he feels.

“I just want to say my mom was the best mom out there,” he begins, choking on emotion. “I never thought her life would be ended right in front of my eyes,” he says as he collapses into tears.

“She was the mom everyone wanted,” he added. “She loved everyone deeply no matter what.”

Henderson’s uncle and brother rushed to his side, holding his arm for support.

Barely able to make out the words, he said “I haven’t stopped crying since this happened.”

His sorrow echoed throughout the church, resonating with the crowd of about 200 mourning McCool’s death.

Mom had fought cancer

Sons, from left, Michael Marquez, Isaiah Henderson and Robert Presley grieve (Photo: ABCnews)
Sons, from left, Michael Marquez, Isaiah Henderson and Robert Presley grieve (Photo: ABCnews)

McCool, a 49-year-old mom of 11, had survived two bouts of cancer when she was killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting last week. She often went out dancing at Pulse with Henderson.

Another son, Farrell Marshall, started a GoFundMe page seeking donations for the family after the tragedy.

At the end of the service, her family released 49 white balloons into the sky in her honor.

CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this story.

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