Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
Nineteen years ago, on a chilly evening just before Christmas 1993, Ben, Sylvia, Coleen and Marge died and Bobby was shot at the hands of a lone gunman at the Aurora, CO, Chuck E Cheese pizza parlor where my son Russ was working. Russ had arrived home early from his shift after trading the closing hour of work with Bobby, the only shooting victim who survived. Those shot and killed were his co-workers with whom he had shared the last moments of their lives.
Today, as the news unfolded from this most recent shooting in Aurora, my heart and mind raced to these latest victims and survivors, now like Russell, for whom the world will never be the same. We will hear much about the gunman and much about those he shot, but among the survivors will be hundreds of other broken hearts and spirits who wills struggle in the days and weeks ahead to make sense of the senseless. And for many, the struggle to heal will fall short.
In the not too distant future, after the news reports from today’s theater shootings die down and some other tragedy or some other political scandal grabs the attention away from Colorado’s most recent shooting massacre, many of the survivors will become different people emotionally and spiritually. Folks will go on with their lives and will expect the survivors to do the same. Some people will be downright cruel about suggesting weakness in those who don’t “snap out of it” soon enough. Relationships and future plans will be altered forever. Life will go on, but it will never be the same. And not every survivor will embrace an attitude of gratitude for having been spared -- in fact, many will feel guilty, angry, and disavowed of any notions of a greater power that could possibly have orchestrated such a horrific outcome for some while granting life to others.
I have always grieved for the souls lost on December 14, 1993, but I also have grieved for my son and the loss he suffered that day. Even now, he scarcely wants to be near Colorado, and he avoids being around those things and those people that remind him of that day – including me and his father. My son survived, and he is a remarkable man, a kind and loving husband and father, and he makes the most out of every bit of the incredible talent he has.
But my heart broke a little again today as I read what he wrote on his own blog site. Here is what one survivor of a mass shooting long ago in Aurora, Colorado, said today:
Shootings in Aurora, CO
Sad day. I wondered whether I should write a blog or not today with the event that took place this morning in my hometown of Aurora,CO. I haven't lived there since high school but much of my family still lives there as well has the majority of childhood friends.
There are many rambling essays I could write about my own experience with mass murder in Aurora, CO and how it haunts me nearly every day. After nearly 20 years I have yet to resolve the huge existential questions raised by such events. And, by god, have I tried.
Today: it hurts.
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