Today in Colorado a very sick person did a terrible thing that defies the essence of humanity. This summer in Colorado, fires ran wild through miles and miles of forest and homes. At this moment in Colorado, I remember two summers passed in Galveston. I stood on a beach and stared down a broken pier at two towering mermaids cast in concrete on the end of a large hotel. Well, one and a half mermaids, as both rose out of the ocean, but one was ripped in half, like a sheet of paper. That was the power of a hurricane, and I’d never seen anything like it. I remember Galveston and how safe I felt in Colorado, where other than the occasional blizzard and a random, but typically rural, tornado, nothing much happened that felt that much bigger than life.
Today in Colorado, it seems things won’t stop happening. The street where the killer lived is literally across the street from where our Congenital Heart Walk will be next month. The killer probably walked through our park and our walk route, on his way to the campus each day, possibly planning his crimes. Now some of his victims are on that campus, in the hospitals that tower over our route. Hospitals for both adults and children . . .
The theater where the killer struck is right next to where we hosted our very first Children’s Heart Foundation meetings at the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. The Barnes & Noble where I had my book signing on April 20, (yes, April 20, the anniversary of Columbine) was within view of that theater. My sister once worked in that shopping center. A dear friend was in Theater Nine with her children two weeks before. This is a place I know very, very well. It is in “my backyard.”
I don’t feel less safe in Colorado today, but I love my home more now that it’s been taken to task by nature, and assaulted by crime. I love Colorado because has been my home since I was four years old. It is a place where people smile, say hello, and look you in the eye as an act of kindness, not of aggression.
Today in Colorado I am left with the thought of twelve people dead, whose mothers each required nine months to create life that was taken in less than thirty seconds. I think of their mothers and fathers, and the dozens and dozens of injured and traumatized people, the good people of Colorado. I think about our Congenital Heart Walk and the Children’s Heart Foundation and the years I’ve spent building a chapter and creating a successful event, and how our walk space is now sullied by the stains of violence. Today in Colorado I am humbled and perplexed by how much effort it takes to create anything, and how easy it is to destroy everything.
Please pray for Colorado and Aurora and all of us here who grieve for fires and gun fire and the burdens of destruction. Pray that we will create again and not succumb to destruction. We are bigger than this, we are Coloradans.