Remembering Those We’ve Lost: Reflections on Aurora

There are rituals of death we know in life.  Words to say when a loved one dies, for a friend who has lost a parent, to a co-worker recouping from surgery, to a child who has lost a pet.  We have etiquette for funerals, wakes and repasts.  We hold to moments of faith until doctors tell us the hope is lost in the face of machine stats.  We remember dates.  We stand in solemn silence with candles lit.  We circle up and sing songs of praise.

We are no longer surprised by moments bursting with terror.  We know that a bomb planted in a truck parallel parked near a building will blast destruction.  That planes can be hijacked weapons filled with fuel and hundreds of lost lives.  We know that towers built into the sky can fall.  That a sniper can hold a city hostage and pick off targets at will.  That buildings for learning can be changed into rooms and halls of horror.

Once again we find ourselves starting the rituals again.  Seventy shot at a “The Dark Knight Rises” movie premiere in Aurora, Colorado.  Twelve are dead.  Fifty-eight others were injured.  Countless others are roaming around in shock that will morph to survivor’s guilt or depression or anger.  We aren’t standing in awe or shock that something like this could happen.  We admit that it has been a distant thought at times.  Malls, mega churches, amusement parks and, yes, theaters are all “soft targets.”  They are places where the element of freedom to come and go without suspicion or search still exists.  They are places where we gather in the spirit of relaxation and joy.

What will change now? With each attack, each swing of mass violence, we lose an element of ourselves.  AMC theaters say they will ban dressing up in costumes and bringing in fake weapon props.  Will we move next into metal detectors and bag searches?  Conveyor belt checkpoints on every entrance?  Guards on the exit doors?  What will be too little or too much?  Where does it end?

May the light of the heavens shine upon all their souls:

  • Alexander (A. J.) Boik –Eighteen year old A. J. just graduated from high school and worked as an independent distributor for a coffee company.
  • Alex Sullivan – He was celebrating his 27th birthday by going to the premiere and his one year wedding anniversary was two days later.
  • Alex Teves – Alex, 24, recently graduated from the University of Denver with a master degree in counseling psychology.
  • Gordon Cowden – At 51, he was the oldest victim, and was a divorced father of four who worked as a real estate appraiser.
  • Jesse Childress – The 29-year-old was an Air Force Staff Sgt. Reservist on active duty.
  • Jessica Ghawi – This 24-year-old had recently survived the Toronto Eaton Centre mall shooting.John Larimer – A Navy man, this 27-year-old immediately knew the danger of what was occurring and threw himself over his girlfriend to protect her life.
  • Jonathan Blunk – This 26-year-old had spent five years in the Navy and later Saturday was to fly to Reno to see his wife, daughter and son.
  • Matt McQuinn – Matt, 27, also died trying to provide cover for his girlfriend.
  • Micayla Medek – A student of general studies at Community College of Aurora, she is described as very spiritual by friends and family.
  • Rebecca Wingo – This 35-year-old had attended Aurora Community College as well as worked for the U.S. Air Force.
  • Veronica Moser – The youngest victim at six, she was spending the summer learning how to swim.

How has the attack on the movie theater premiere made you rethink your personal safety?  What are your thoughts on our level of protection protocols for “soft targets”?  How has violence touched your life?

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11 Responses to Remembering Those We’ve Lost: Reflections on Aurora

  1. Emma says:

    I hate the idea now that there will be disruption in entertainment venues and beyond like bag searches, metal detectors, a dress code. The appalling acts of a few madmen have huge ramifications worldwide, just look at air travel.
    In Ireland, we were shocked to hear of the tragedy in Colorado. Prayers are with the families of the dead.

  2. I don’t want a piece of ourselves to be lost with each tragedy. I want us to be stronger, smarter, more loving. I want the violence to end. I know, I’m dreaming a bit here, but if I can’t dream of a better world then what do I have? There will always be hope. Hope that in the future someone will get help before thinking killing innocents is the best result to their troubled life. Hope that we’ll learn to love each other for our differences instead of killing. Your post brought tears to my eyes, then reading down the list of victims I totally lost it.

    • I love your hope, Tameri! What saddened me more was the rush to start talking about the politics of gun control and gun freedoms for people to arm and protect themselves. What gives me hope are the stories of victims and survivors who put helping/protecting others above their own safety.

  3. What a beautiful and sensitive post, Barb. As Tameri says, we must not lose hope. I agree it was nothing short of disgusting to hear people going on about arming themselves for protection. That is just so not the solution.
    We’ve missed you, Barb!

    • Missed you to, Patricia, and thanks for the comment and love! We’ve become so reactionary that when violence happens, it is like a rhetoric button is pushed. And I saw today that the first lawsuit has been filed.

  4. I can’t help but wonder why/how this young man went unnoticed for so long in such a disturbed state. He was working on a Ph.D. in Neuroscience with an emphasis in Psychiatry (from what I’ve heard on the news). Why didn’t someone in his field of study notice that a ‘brain had gone bad.’

    This is a beautifully written post – grace and emotion touched me. I am in favor of Congress standing up to the NRA and passing once and for all legislation making it illegal for non-law enforcement individuals to have long-load rapid firing assault weapons. The average citizen doesn’t have a single use for such a weapon unless they are engaging in open firing on innocent citizens or conducting illegal transactions. The NRA has held our legislature hostage far too long. I believe we’ll have hope and freedom when we no longer have to consider how many assault weapons are in the wrong hands.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sheri! I also wonder if there were signs. I did see a report he was under a doctor’s care and on meds…not sure on accuracy. Sadly, if someone does see signs, what can be done if no laws are yet broken? Tragic for all.

  5. So beautifully said Barbara. I am deeply saddened by the tragedy and am at a loss to comprehend such senseless violence. But the others are right, we must not lose hope. If anything, we must cling to it and our freedom more feverishly than ever before. In fear, we give into the darkness while in light, we open the doors to hope and love!
    Glad to have you back gorgeous!

  6. Pingback: On Making It Matter | Barbara McDowell's Blog

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