Welcome to My Empty Nest

Musings from Mama Bird

Midnight Movie Tragedy

I can’t stop thinking about last Friday morning’s massacre in the Colorado movie theater at a midnight showing of The Dark Night Rises. I can’t stop thinking about those who were so excited to be in that theater, to be finally seeing a movie whose release they had been looking forward to for weeks, months. It was a date night for some who brought their sleepy babes with them, a birthday celebration for another.

More than that, I can’t stop thinking about the parents who didn’t know for certain whether or not their adult children were in that theater but suspected they were, so they took to their cell phones and called their kids for hours, then their kids’ friends.

No answer.

By Friday evening, these parents, these worried, frantic parents, received word that no parent wants or should ever have to hear: Your child was killed.

I think about those times I asked my children to let me know when they safely arrived at a movie theater fifteen miles away, think about how I would be able to relax and catch a couple of hours of sleep knowing they were at their destination, two hours of sleep until they called to let me know they were on their way home. A restless sleep would usually awaken me around the time I figured the movie was ending, so more times than not, I would text them before they had a chance to text them. When those texts went unanswered, I’d assume they were still watching the movie, and I would get up, watch a mindless show on TV or surf the internet, wide awake until I received the much-anticipated text and/or their return home.

I can’t stop thinking about those parents, frantic moms and dads, in my exact parental position, awaiting word from their children, children whose texts they would never receive again. Of course, these parents wouldn’t have known this right away, but the minutes that became hours of waiting…what agony, an emotion with which I’m very familiar.

If I were those parents, I may have feared an auto accident delayed my children’s homecoming. As time went on, I would have called hospitals, then jails (because a parent never knows everything about their children).

Until I heard about the massacre, I would never, ever have worried about their safety in a movie theater.

I’m reminded of a Sunday not too long ago when I texted my adult son around the normal time I always texted him on a Sunday. Surely he’d be awake by two in the afternoon; he almost always was.  When three, then four that afternoon came ’round, I was in the full throngs of an anxiety attack. After the thirty-eighth time I called him, no answer, I finally received his text at four. I called him then, masking tears of relief while trying to sound normal.

This Sunday after the massacre, I’m thinking about those children who will never text their parents again. I’m thinking about those parents who didn’t know their last text from their children would in actuality be their last text.

I’m praying for them, too.

As Jessica Ghawi, one of the twelve victims gunned down early Friday morning who wrote under the alias Jessica Redfield in her WordPress blog (that was ironically a reflection of a recent brush with death) in June: 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 will remember Jessica and her words, the victims, the family and friends of those gunned down Friday. I will especially remember the parents, for we know” every second of every day is a gift”… and most of us never, ever take our children for granted.

God bless us, everyone.


2 comments on “Midnight Movie Tragedy

  1. Sara
    July 28, 2012

    Jane, I have thought these thoughts so many times since this incident. I am a lover of theater going. Something so special about losing yourself for a few hours in someone else’s life or some event. MY youngest son and I used to have a standing date for Sunday afternoon movies. We never felt in danger at the movies. But now I’ve had to go down that road. Will any of us ever really be safe again at the theaters? Has this man opened the door to copy cat wanna be’s? Enjoyed your post.

    • Jane
      July 28, 2012

      You’re probably right. I was speaking to a young woman today. She and her fiance saw the movie last night, and she said there was such tension in the air, it permeated the energy of the entire theater. Everytime a door opened or shut, everyone turned around in their seats. She didn’t stay and finish watching the movie…

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