Today, July 16, 2015, they found James Holmes guilty.
Of shooting, injuring and killing kids we knew, friends we had, sisters and sons here in our Aurora city limits, James Egan Holmes was found guilty. We already knew he was.
As the verdict was read at around 4:15pm our time, then snaked across time zones through media outlets around the nation, I absentmindedly drove my children along a street a few blocks from the scene of the crime, on my way to run errands. Actually, not absentmindedly. Quite focused on the task at hand, I quite forgot about the verdict’s reading until hours later.
To tell the truth, I was at Aurora Town Center two days ago, the mall that anchored Century 16, looking at puppies with my 11-year-old, checking out the new Glow Golf they’d opened on the first floor, strolling around waiting for her orthodontist appointment to roll around. Normal stuff.
Over a week ago, I even parked about a hundred feet from where the shooting occurred, fresh from a new haircut, just because that parking space was closest to the mall entrance I wanted to use. I saw quite a few cars parked in the theater lot, wondered a moment about what kind of people were over at that painted building (because we’d vowed never to set foot there again), then went on inside the store to do some quick shopping. Again, normal stuff.
Actually, I just drove past the building where James Holmes lived, barricaded himself and bombed, what, two days ago on the way home, just to avoid the rush hour traffic in the rain. I forgot to look in its direction. Some time ago, I looked every single time I passed. I don’t anymore.
This has nothing to do with “life going on.” It is definitively NOT going on for Aurora, not the way it was before the shooting. Yes, of course, pools are open for the summer, weddings and break-ups are happening, babies are being born and celebrated, bills are being paid and arguments had.
What’s not normal anymore is that we don’t get to add what happened here to an abstract list of random shootings that happened “somewhere else.”
My older children remember their high school classmate who died that day. I remember the black and white tiles on the floor at the entrance and around the concessions, where we quickly bought our popcorn before The Smurfs started for Daddy and the little ones, while I took the older ones to see the last installment of the Harry Potter series. I remember reading a book while I waited in the parking lot one day while my then 13-year-old daughter went to the movies with her friends, in that very same theater. We all remember the long lines of cars who snaked around the parking lot the first week after the horror, holding up mall traffic just to witness the police vans and network TV satellite dishes that surrounded the building, forever it seemed. And then one day that all went away.
Each person who died or was injured that day has a name, a background, a story, and a spirit. All that any of each one of them had, was more than anything we could hear about James Holmes. I’d rather hear their stories blasted across the nation. Not his. Not see his face, but each one of theirs.
[Reprinted from my Sidelines post at http://sidelinesapp.com/item/for-aurora-its-the-wrong-face/ ]