Sometimes, reality rears its ugly head and reminds us that real life is happening around us all the time. As a society, we use sports and movies as a break from this reality. However, as was evident this past early-Friday morning in Aurora, CO, there is those times where the two are forced to mix and we are left with questions without answers.
I find myself without words even 72 hours later. Twelve people have died. Many more continue to fight for their lives while hundreds and hundreds of people who are friends and family have had their lives altered forever.
Yesterday was a day of mourning and coming together in Aurora and surrounding areas. Though the grieving period has no expiration date, the need to continue to live our respected lives is undeniable. All too often, “so-and-so would have wanted it that way,” is uttered in times like this.
Alex Sullivan, who celebrated his 27th birthday by attending the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” tweeted to one of his friends: “oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever.” Friday was Sullivan’s 27th birthday. Sunday would have been his first wedding anniversary.
The story of Matt McQuinn is nothing short of proof that chivalry is still alive. Matt was killed as he used himself as a shield, keeping his girlfriend and her brother out of harm’s way. Jon Blunk, also was fatally shot as he pushed his girlfriend underneath a seat. “I know I would not be here today if Jon had not been next to me in that movie theater,” she said in an interview.
Jesse Childress and John Larimer both served their countries in the Air Force and Navy respectively.
Micayla Medek was just 23 and a student at the community college. AJ Boik was just 18 and about to start his life. A life was taken before it even had a chance to begin to shape, as Veronica Moser was the youngest victim at just 6-years old.
Rebecca Wingo was a 32-year old mother whose father, Steve posted on her Facebook wall, “I hear she died instantly without pain, however the pain is unbearable.”
Then there’s the story of Jessica Ghawi (Redfield), my friend. We only knew each other for a very short time (a few months), but I’ve stated since Friday, you didn’t have to know Jessica for a long time to truly know her. Her personality was infectious. You couldn’t help but smile when you visited her twitter or facebook page. Actually interacting with her was a treat. It sinks my heart to see that we actually corresponded on twitter that Thursday morning, her final day. She was excited to learn that the new CHL hockey team, Denver Cutthroats signed an affiliation deal with the Colorado Avalanche.
I jokingly told her the only thing better than the affiliation news was to wake up to learn that she “had just been signed as Shea Weber’s agent.” The last thing I ever heard/got from Jessica was a link to an online course to become a sports agent after we both indicated we needed to change our careers.
I still feel a hole in my heart three days later, but I’ve always taken solace in my faith knowing that the world has twelve new angels walking amongst us. I find that time really does heal all wounds. I go and look at Jessica’s tweeter feed. I know that the number 11,005 will never change, but I continue to read her life in 140-character blurbs. The tears are still there, but now there is a smile accompanying the tears. Jessica and the eleven others lived life. They shared those lives with so many people. I was fortunate to have shared in Jessica’s life. Today, we push forward and it IS because that’s what Alex, Matt, AJ, Jessica and Rebecca would want. They all had things they wanted/had to do here on earth. They need us to continue that work.