Aurora Theater Shooting Survivors Brave Reopening & Look Like Heroes
It's been, what, six months since the shooting inside an Aurora, Colorado theater during a midnight showing of the Dark Knight Rises? Would you believe the theater has re-opened? Not only that, but two of the victims of the July 20, 2012 massacre walked into the Century movie theater and sat down in the very seats where they were when a gunman opened fired last summer.
Suspect James Holmes is now in custody and can't hurt anyone, but it takes some chutzpah to walk back into the place where you nearly died. Kaylan Bailey, 14, and Hailee Hensley, 13, are, in short, two incredibly brave young women.
There weren't many like them who accepted Century's offer to go inside. In fact, the invitation for a private screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was seen by many of the victims' families as a slap in the face. Their pain, their grief, makes their reaction understandable.
But it doesn't take away from what Bailey and Hensley did this week. The girls were just frightened kids on that night last July, lucky to be alive while so many around them perished. Bailey's 6-year-old cousin, Veronica Moser Sullivan, was among the youngest to die in the Dark Knight Rises massacre. Veronica's pregnant mother was paralyzed and lost her unborn child.
And yet, for Bailey, the offer wasn't cruel. For this girl, walking inside that theater was cathartic. As she told media at the screening:
For me, I wanted to go back because that theater was the last place I ever saw Veronica, and it really means a lot to me. So I wanted to see it again, because I feel like when I'm there, there's a part of her there too.
Who can argue with that? We all deal with loss differently, and we all find closure in different ways.
I know I probably would not have had the stomach to walk in there. Escaping once would have been enough for me, and I'd have run over hot coals in the opposite direction to get away.
But again, we all deal with things differently. Seeing this theater reopen is painful for some, but it's good for others.
These girls faced their fears, they walked back into that theater, and by sitting in those seats they sent a message. The madman destroyed lives. But he didn't destroy everything. He didn't destroy their spirits.
Would you have the bravery these girls had? Would you have gone back into that theater?