Though I am beyond grateful to be blessed with yet another day of life, I find myself consumed with feelings of sadness today.
The reason for this sadness is, of course, the tragic shooting that place in Aurora, Colorado this morning.
Senseless and inexplicable are the two words that keep coming to mind.
Sadness for the victims who lost their lives.
Sadness for the additional victims who were injured.
Sadness for those who escaped unharmed but will have to live with the memory forever.
Sadness for the victims’ family members and the community of Aurora that will have to pick up the pieces.
And, I have to admit, even a twinge of sadness for the 24-year old man responsible for the shooting, who is now in custody.
What could be so wrong in a person’s life, or in their head, that would compel them to carry out cold-blooded harm on another human being? It’s a feeling I cannot even being to empathize with.
I will not be the least bit sad when justice, hopefully swift justice, is dealt to this vehicle of ultimate evil on earth. But I am saddened nonetheless that a fellow flesh-and-blood human being could be filled with whatever hate must have consumed him to do something like this.
Or maybe he was the opposite, totally unfeeling, devoid of any and all emotion, even hate. That almost makes more sense. Because how could a person capable of feeling ever feel like taking the lives of innocent people?
It makes no sense, and I hate what he did while being unable to fathom how or why he could do it.
It’s just…sad. In every sense of the word.
I am also saddened (and frankly surprised) that it took a tragedy like this to introduce me to the powerful words of Jessica Redfield, pictured below.
My Twitter feed has been filled with the most positive of words about Redfield (real name Jessica Ghawi), a 24-year old aspiring sports journalist who was among the people killed this morning. Here is why she chose to go by “Redfield,” which suggests a great deal about the caring, kind person she seemed to be.
Jessica came up in the sports blogosphere as a writer for Busted Coverage, a site I know well and have linked to often over the years here at MSF. She recently moved to Denver from San Antonio to take the next step in her career.
Read this piece posted about Jessica at Busted Coverage. She was beautiful, she was beloved, and she was brimming with potential according to all accounts I’ve seen.
And as all writers hope to do, she leaves behind a legacy with her words.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
Standing alone, these are powerful words. They are true words. They are exceedingly human words.
And their impact is even more acute given their context.
The words above come from this post Jessica wrote in June. She was at the Eaton Center in Toronto when a shooting broke out in the food court. As she described, an “odd feeling” led her to walk out moments before, perhaps sparing her life.
Her experience led her to feel and express the gratitude in the excerpt above. Those words were preceded by these:
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
How eerie, how ironic, that today’s shooting in Aurora can be described using these very same words, substituting “twelve people” for “one man.” How sad. How senselessly tragic.
No words really ever seem to do justice in moments like these. There is nothing any of us can say or write or think that changes the events or that truly provides comfort to anyone directly affected. Not right now anyway. Not in the rawness and recency of this awful moment, where even hundreds and hundreds of miles away from Aurora in Dallas I feel like I can hear gunshots still echoing.
But in this particular moment, for this particular tragedy, we do collectively have relevant words we can turn to for comfort and context, regardless of our level of involvement. And these words just happen to be from one of the victims, Jessica, whose emerging legacy of eloquent perspective serves as a confirmation of the bright future everyone who knew her thought she was destined for.
I feel compelled to post these words again.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift.
I can say personally that after this morning, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
In the aftermath of events like these, we all struggle to make sense of it in our own way. We struggle for context and clarity, and at some point for closure. Incredibly, Jessica Redfield helped us all, posthumously, move towards achieving this with these wonderful words that she wrote back in June.
She was imploring herself to value life, cherish all moments, and express love. Today, her words implore us all to do the same.
Thank you Jessica, and may your beautiful and inspiring spirit rest in peace.
Update: Here is a video of Jessica that the Denver Post has been requesting people retweet.