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Aurora Shooting One Year Later

7-20-12 Aurora Shooting Memorial Yard SignIt’s exactly one year from the Aurora Theater Shooting. I DID return to the theater in January of this year and I have watched a few movies there since it reopened. Joey has even seen movies by himself in the theater; which is something we thought we would never allow again. The theater is completely different inside and it looks much better. It’s brighter and a few areas were moved around and changed but ultimately, the scars are still there. They always will be.

I wrote three blogs about this incident last year. Two are here: http://www.allthatisseenandunseen.com/blog/?m=201207. And another here: http://www.allthatisseenandunseen.com/blog/?p=175

Our lives were changed dramatically after that incident. Those blog posts were raw entries about how I was affected by this tragedy as well as how my family was affected. It is difficult to go back and read them just because I put myself out there and shared my wide range of emotions. Judgment and criticism from others is always difficult to deal with but ultimately, I am glad it is out there for others to see. There are many walks of life affected by the tragedy and not just those who were there.

Jason’s involvement in the disarming of the bomb in James Holmes’ apartment was never posted nor seen in the news although I have shared his story with others and it will be in my next book, SWAT Wife. This was a difficult grief journey for my entire family. I can’t imagine the grief experienced by those who were there as well as the families of those who were injured or lost their lives. I say this frequently, no parent should EVER have to bury their child!

This post only serves as a reminder and memorial of that day. We will NEVER forget 7-20-12.

#RememberAurora Newscasts: http://www.9news.com/theatershooting/memorial/default.aspx

Aurora Shooting Update

Just Pray Song by Moriah Peters and Rhett Walker

Aurora SWAT officers at James Holmes' Apt.

SWAT sets up for disarming the bomb at James Holmes’ Apartment in Aurora, CO following the Century 16 Theater Shooting.

It’s been three weeks since the Aurora Shooting. Life is slowly getting back to “normal” for me. It took me one week of extreme grieving and a meeting at the memorial site to view the theater to help me through this. I still have much to get through but my family is intact, my husband is home again, and I am feeling much better. It still surprises me how much the shooting seemed to impact me.

I know my family was tied to the shooting in many different ways and it SHOULD affect me. Heck, it affected so many people! Even people who have no direct connection to the theater or to the Aurora Police Department, but there were so many degrees of involvement for us that I think they all burst in front of me when the suspect did what he did. I got free movie tickets to see a preview of the new Disney movie and I gave them to someone else. I am not ready to step foot in another theater right now.

I won’t go to a theater until I go to the re-opening of the Century 16. I don’t even know how that will go. I am not even sure I will be able to step into that theater. I am looking forward to going with my “sissy” though. “Sissy” is my sister in law and that’s what she calls me. I like it alot. I guess it’s a “pet” name. 🙂 “Sissy” offered to go with me when the theater re-opens.

I am no longer angry about what happened. My company reached out a week and a half later but it was too late and I was blamed for not being “specific” enough in my needs. There was ALOT said that I won’t post here but it was pretty bad. I was shocked this was turned around on me and I feel like there has been some retaliation for coming forward. Only time will tell.

I am still missing my theater. Every Friday night, I get a reminder message on my iPad that Jason needs to be at the theater by 6pm. We still haven’t deleted his schedule and he hasn’t been working off-duty there since the shooting even though there is round the clock off-duty there right now protecting the place.

I have had some great support from friends and family. I have talked through the incident and how it affected me over and over. I have talked about how I was called into work in the middle of the night, while suppressing all my emotions about my theater being destroyed and people dying in that theater; and my husband being called in to work for an entire weekend while he faced death several times to assist with disarming a planted bomb. I talked about how my son used to see movies by himself while we sat him in the front row so I could see a different movie and how I mourn that I will never feel comfortable allowing him to do that until he is older…MUCH older.

I know my loss is much smaller than those who lost loved ones or were hurt. I hurt too. I hurt along with them. My heart aches for the families affected directly, for the City of Aurora, but also, my heart beams with pride for the police officers and firefighters who had to face such horrifying events. These events were rarely seen but are becoming a common now. Officers should never have to see this and I pray for those officers still struggling with the trauma they saw, the survivor’s guilt, and the feelings of not doing enough. You DID enough! You DID more than enough! More people survived because YOU GAVE ALL!

The “Just Pray” song was sent to me by my friend Christine. She sent it to help me get through my grief and it helps tremendously. Thank you Christine! I posted it here for others who continue to struggle. We have many steps ahead of us but we’ll make it!

 

Aurora Shooting Mimics Miscarriage Grief

Day 6 after the Aurora shooting.

So, I have been literally too exhausted to journal. That’s not like me at all but everything from this shooting is draining me and as I said before, I am not related to a victim. The shooting has taken so much out of me and most days, it’s too overwhelming to complete more then one task.

I took Monday off and desperately hoped to have Tuesday off but with all the new people at my hospital and the fact that the company doesn’t provide sick time, I didn’t feel like I could take any more time off.

I am not one to ask for help but on Saturday, I asked for it in the best way I knew how. I contacted my schedulers and advised them I wasn’t doing well with the shooting and that I couldn’t come in on Monday. I also advised them to contact the person in charge to tell them because my boss was on military leave.

I didn’t hear back from anyone so on Monday morning, I sent an email to another director I used to work for and advised him I am overwhelmed and that I am still not 100%. He offered to have someone come help out with tasks at my facility but didn’t offer any time off. Since he didn’t make a statement in his email, I assumed it wasn’t okay for me to take more time.

Monday afternoon I received a call from HR. VERY brief. “Hi, I heard you called off today because you are having trouble with the shooting and I wanted to make sure you had the EAP brochure and information.” REALLY?! I tried to hold back the tears but they flowed and I tried to mask the crying in my voice but couldn’t. Despite the tears and voice change, she got off the phone.

Not once did she ask if I was okay, if there was anything I needed, if there was anything the company could do, or if I needed more time off. If someone had just said it was OKAY for me to take time, it would have made a HUGE difference but I am so sour right now, it hurts to think about.

Even though I wasn’t at the theater or involved with a victim (other than a few came to my hospital), I am still grieving immensely.

  • I lost our family theater. I don’t know if I will ever be able to return but I’ll try. I am not scared of it happening again, that’s not the issue, the innocence is lost and that bothers me the most. It will never be the same knowing so many people were hurt there.
  • My husband could have been killed. You will NEVER see his story on the news but not only does he normally work there on Friday nights, he also spent over 30 hours assisting with evacuations and diffusing of the booby trapped apartment, helped protect the President while he visited University Hospital of Colorado (don’t know why he couldn’t visit all the other victims) and then he assisted with the crowds at the memorial.
  • I had NO time to process this with my husband or family. I couldn’t take off work and my husband had to go to training the next week.
  • I had no one to spend time with and to talk with that understood what I was going through on all levels. It’s hard enough for me to be vulnerable but it’s even more hard when I am being vulnerable with someone who doesn’t understand the complexity of my situation. Thinking about it, I should have reached out to a few of the other wive’s whose husbands work at the theater AND would have been involved in the shooting like mine. That left me with maybe two that I know. I should check in with them.

How does this situation mimick the grief from my miscarriage?

  • Exhaustion
  • Jealousy
  • Weepiness
  • Anger
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Sleeping too much
  • Not sleeping at all
  • Nightmares
  • Body aches
  • Feelings of desolation

Those are just a few.

This hasn’t impacted me the same way my miscarriage did but it’s interesting to see all the similarities. As a new psychology major, I hope to study this phenomenon a little bit more.

The positive to having experienced grief before?

I know what I need.

  • Time with my family to process
  • Time for self-care

Those are the big ones. I don’t want to watch anymore footage of the incident or see anymore pictures or really hear anymore stories but I know all of that is normal and it’s okay. I will get through this funk. Each day gets a bit easier but I still long for time with my family to process everything that has happened.

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Aurora Shooting Day Three

Century 16 AuroraIt’s so difficult to watch everyone else go on their family weekends, go hiking, walking, running, just plain having fun, etc while I spent the entire weekend in bed, sleeping for well over 30 hours, pushing my son away on my brother-in-law’s family because I have absolutely no energy, all the while feeling guilty for it and hating others because they GET to do all those things as if their life wasn’t affected one bit by this tragedy. Some of their husbands were in the same place as mine but many don’t have anyone involved from Aurora PD. Some went to prayer vigils but many just acted like it was any normal weekend.

How is this possible?

Well, let me tell you, this was a HORRIBLE weekend. It is unfair. I expected to have some emotions surrounding this incident but I didn’t expect to be blown away by the sheer exhaustion and grief from several types of losses.

My son had no father this weekend and NO mother.

Our camper sits on the side of the house, prepped to go on our family trip but in reality, it will just be taken back to storage.

I was alone, no one to be with. No one to talk with about this incident or how it affected my family because my best friend was sitting outside the suspects home figuring out how to dismantle a bomb. I needed the presence of a person, not a phone call or text message.

We didn’t have anyone die in the theater but so much of what we knew has changed and will forever be changed.

I spent the wee hours of that first night at my hospital preparing for more victims and families of victims and watched the incident completely unfold around us on TV. The images of my family theater (Century 16 Aurora) surrounded by police cars, ambulances, fire trucks and helicopters destroyed the innocence of that theater.

I spent that morning, worrying and praying for the safety of my husband and all the officers who were called upon to help with this tragedy. I worried about my son, who was woken from his sound sleep only to discover his mother was gone and his father was leaving and he needed to be the biggest, strongest little boy by waiting for someone to come get him.

My old city, the city my son was born in, and the city my husband serves to protect was ruined, right in front of my eyes.

The family theater, the same one my husband and father-in-law and friends, protect on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays destroyed.

One of the most vulnerable places you can be and often thought of as safe, is now a place of distrust and won’t feel safe for a very long time.

You see, I can’t read all the Facebook posts of all the happy people, hiking, camping, doing family things, etc because I CAN’T. My family is off protecting the city and now the President. My family weekend was abruptly stopped and because of that, I lost all energy and flow to do anything. I am usually the one who is up and running around, but today, it was my husband; who yelled at me to get out of bed because 2 days in it was enough. Yelling at me because we have a child who needs his mother and I will HAVE to get him later. Yelling at me because this isn’t the best way to handle the situation. Pushing me out of the bed, pulling me out of the bed, opening the blinds, taking the covers and pillows, getting out my workout clothes and yelling at me to put them on and go jog.

No. I can’t go. I need more time to get through this funk. I need that DAMN trailer to go to storage because looking at it reminds me of Thursday. The day we scrambled around in preparation for our fishing trip. It reminds me of the days before, planning where we were going and how we were going to catch a fish other than a trout. It brings me back to the moment where we were a normal family, the three of us.  A father who teaches police officers to shoot, a mother who is rebuilding a security team, and a boy who has his parents fully available to him when he needs us. But just after midnight on Friday, we were sorely reminded that we are public servants, police officers, security managers and disaster specialists.

For me, I was only needed for 6 hours following the shooting but for my family; my husband spent three days working with the finest police department in the State of Colorado picking up the pieces of all the destruction from one man who had blatant disregard for the lives of others and only thought of himself. Yes, this man ruined my weekend and I am pissed but he ruined much more than that.

He took away the innocence of a child, the lives of twelve people, destroyed the family atmosphere, and brought fear into thousands of homes. He also managed to bring strangers together, others closer to God, and brought Jesus here to walk with those who are suffering.  But I am still mad and I will be for a while, because right now, all I see and all I feel is the death and damage to innocent lives, the massive grief and suffering people are experiencing, the destruction of my family unit, the loss of my family weekend, and the defacing and permanent change to my family’s movie theater. This is the ONLY theater my son knows. It’s gone and people are dead. No, this isn’t a regular weekend. This weekend sucks!

#theatershooting

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