I am a writer, even at the worst of times I am rarely at a loss for words. In this case, I am afraid words fail me entirely.
I just received a note that verified a fear that had been lingering in the back of my mind since the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado.
Not that long ago, I went to the first ever Denver Comic Con, the first large scale comics convention in the city’s history, apparently. It was a massive success, completely sold out, and I fell in love with the town and the people of Denver. They could not have been kinder, more welcoming, or more genuine. They treated me like a friend, and everyone from the organizers, to the attendees, to total strangers, showered the legendary hospitality of their city down upon myself and my husband. Immediately after leaving, we couldn’t wait to start planning for a return visit at a future date.
It was also a convention with a huge number of cosplayers, and two of my absolute favorites were two characters well known to me, Knockout and Scandal Savage, played by two delightful, funny, fierce young girls, one of the highlights of a show full of highlights.My husband and I insisted on photos with them and they were kind enough to agree.
I was also interviewed for a video interview by a very sweet and considerate young man named A.J. Focht. He was as gracious as can be even though I had to reschedule the interview several times as my table was swamped.
Since then, I had had a terrible fear that someone I met at DCC would have been in that theater. ANY loss of life or threat of danger is a tragedy, but knowing it was someone that I met and really liked was just too scary to contemplate, somehow.
I just received a note from A.J. that confirmed my fears. A.J. and a group of people from the convention were in that theater, including Caitlin, the lovely woman playing Scandal Savage.
They both survived, thank god. But one of their group, Alex Teves, did not survive. He died a hero, trying to protect his girlfriend. Another of their group was hospitalized.
I am broken-hearted again. As relieved as I am to hear that these two people I barely know, but who left an indelible impression in that brief time, are alive, my heart goes out to them for what they lived through, and for the friend they have lost, and for the other friend who has suffered.
Because Caitlin was one of the first to tweet a message after, that she was okay, to let her family know she had survived, she apparently became hounded extensively by the press, and was not allowed to mourn in peace.
A.J. has written about this at the Suicide Girls website…please read: http://suicidegirlsblog.com/blog/back-row-perspective-part-1-an-aurora-theater-survivors-message-to-the-media/
My heart and my thoughts go out to the victims of that awful night, to the survivors, who are also victimized, and to their families. We all feel so empty and helpless, but we can insist that the media treat these people with respect and kindness. They do not need to be traumatized again.
Finally, I’m going to say something that has been in my mind since the first reports started coming in. I don’t want this to appear frivolous, I hope I say this correctly.
We have been seeing stories of impossible heroism that occurred that night in that theater. Jarrell Brooks, just nineteen years old, had an exit out of the theater, and went back in to help a young mother and her two daughters get out, getting wounded in the process.
Three men gave their lives using their own bodies to shield their girlfriends; Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and the member of my friends’ party, Alex Teves. All three threw their girlfriends to the ground and put their bodies in the path of the bullets. Not one of these men was yet out of his twenties.
Stephanie Davies, when her friend was shot in the neck, dropped to the floor and held pressure on the wound while the gunman was still firing, instead of making for the exit, quite likely saving her friends’ life.
Mike White, Sr., after his son, and his son’s girlfriend were shot, removed his shirt to apply pressure to her wound to save her life, and then as the gunman approached, put his body on top of hers to take the bullets if necessary.
There’s more, but this is what I keep thinking about.
I write stories about morals all day…stories about fictional heroes and fictional villains. And I want to believe they have influenced my life, that they have taught me to stand up when called upon, to try to do the right thing even when it is a sacrifice.
Few are called upon like the heroes of Aurora that night. They remind me what heroism really means. They give me hope. In the middle of the despair and shock, these people saw what needed doing and did it, regardless of the cost to themselves.
A lot has been made of the idea that the gunman was influenced by a fictional villain.
But I think it’s very telling to note that all those heroes, all those amazing, remarkable, beautiful people, came not just to see the latest Batman movie…they went to the first possible showing, a midnight show. They wanted to see Batman. I have seen the power that character has, I have felt it myself. He doesn’t kill, he doesn’t use guns.
He’s a good guy. A hero. A protector.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that THOSE remarkable people were there to see a movie about a hero.
Bless every one of them.
Jarell Brooks, I write about fictional heroes every day. You are a real life hero forever.
A hero in yesterday’s shooting: ”At the end of the aisle, I ran into a woman. She yelled, ‘My kids!’ and I saw she had two young kids with her,” Jarell Brooks, 19, told ABC News. “I made sure they got in the aisle and pushed behind her to make sure she got out of there.” In his effort to protect this family, Brooks was shot in the leg. He’s out of the hospital now, and is being hailed as a hero for his actions. Meanwhile, the woman he saved, Patricia Legarreta, was hit as well, and taken to the hospital — where her boyfriend proposed. She said yes. (ht @sorta_like_art)
I’m just gonna leave this right here.
“I saw someone in distress,” he said. “I’m not the kind of person who would let them be in that situation and me selfishly trying to get myself out of the equation… all she’s trying to do is protect her kids, so I felt like if I could get her out, then maybe I would have gotten out, maybe I wouldn’t. As long as I knew she was OK I was alright.”