My seven-year-old son is a super hero fiend. He knows them all. He knows the good guys and their enemies. He knows if they are DC or Marvel. He can give anyone who’s willing to listen, a detailed description of a super hero, his past and how he became a super hero.
My husband, my son, and I recently went to see The Dark Knight Rises.
I cried for the first 20 minutes, imagining what the people in the theatre in Colorado must have gone through. Every time someone would leave his or her seat, or an usher would walk through, it made me flinch. I kept scanning the theater for anything out of the ordinary. I ended up having an anxiety attack but I refused to leave the theater. I just kept breathing.
The Colorado shooting, during which a gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises (killing 12 people and wounding 59 others) affected me differently than other similar tragedies in which gunmen opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd. Tragedies such as this obviously make me sad, but the Colorado shooting, in particular, affected me on a deeper level. It took me a while to figure out why.
The shooting in the Safeway parking lot in 2011, in which U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen other people were shot and the recent shooting rampage at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin that killed six and wounded others, were both senseless tragedies. I felt incredibly sad for the victims and their families. I was affected while also being somewhat removed from the situation. I’ve never been to a Safeway Store and I’ve never been to a Sikh Temple.
I have been to the movies. It’s supposed to be a happy place to take your family. It’s a place to go to escape into the world of fun and fantasy, if only for a few hours. I’ve seen every major super hero movie produced over the past two years with my son and my husband by my side. This is the link that makes the Colorado shootings so much more devastating to me on a personal level.
The shooter took so much from the victims and the survivors. Will the survivors ever be able to return to a movie theater? Do the commercials for The Dark Knight Rises send them into instant panic? Has he ruined super hero lore for the innocent children involved?
I know he took lives and peace of mind and more than we’ll ever truly understand. I wanted to leave the theater because of what he did to those families in Colorado. I wanted to cry and to be angry and to try to avoid the hurt that I felt for the victims.
I did cry. I will probably always cry when I think of the shock and horror and shear violence of the incident. What I won’t do is let the shooter take anything from my family and me. It would probably be easier if I’d just avoid taking my son to see his favorite characters on the big screen. I wouldn’t have to think of the pain that those families went through and will continue to go through, probably for the rest of their lives. I won’t give the murderer that.
It’s a small offering, and maybe to some it seems insignificant, but I won’t let him have my peace. I will hold on to it, even if it’s only by the very tips of my fingers. It is my peace and he cannot have it.
My heart is broken for the families involved in the tragedy. I hope someday they will be able to take their peace back from the murderer who so violently stole it.
NOTE: The names of the gunmen were purposefully omitted from this writing. I will not glorify them.