Aurora, Tucson, and Me


[Editor's Note: BlogHer Ashleigh Burroughs was shot during the January 2011 shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords media event in Tucson, Arizona. --Grace]

I have to write about it.

I've tried avoiding it. I've tried minimizing it. I've tried ignoring it. I've tried tuning it out. I've skipped headlines and entire sections of the newspaper. It's not working.

Eighteen months ago, I was one of those people... those regular, everyday people, those I just went to the movies people... those people in the all-too-familiar hospital gowns with the silly ties that won't stay together.

I understand why they have those goofy grins on their faces; they've lived to tell the tale.

There is sorrow all around them, but they are here to lend an ear... or to be leant an ear themselves.


Thirty minutes after the bullets stopped flying, I was sedated. I stayed that way until Mr. and Mrs. Obama came into my room and went right back down the rabbit hole again as soon as they left. It wasn't until Thursday morning that I was fully awake.

I think that is why it has taken me so long to tune into the media coverage. I have no memories of the immediate aftermath; in many respects, this was just another news story. Once the weekend passed, though...


Location... location... location..... as your Realtor will tell you, it makes all the difference. The Tucson shooter's family sent a relative out front with a typed statement which he read to the press before retreating to the family's home. The Aurora shooter's family, who live in San Diego, hired an attorney who conducted a press conference wherein she said pretty much what the Tucson relative had read aloud.

The two shooters look eerily alike. Didn't anyone in their orbits notice that look in their eyes?


I run away from the feelings and the stories, and then I feel guilty for trivializing a catastrophe, and then I plunge headlong into the birthday boy and the toothless 6 year old and the good dad driving the kids to the late show, and I start typing through tears.

I read each and every one of the mini-biographies which ran in the New York Times after 9/11. I wept, and I smiled, and I looked forward to each day's new stories. I was touched by most, I remember some even now, but it always felt as if it had happened to the other.

There's not so much of that feeling any more.


The randomness resonates. My hyper-sensitivity to the security of my surroundings has gotten another boost.

Between Netflix and Peapod, we really don't have to leave the house at all, do we?


I have a place to put the January 8th emotions, a special box in the corner of my psyche that I can open or close at will.... for the most part, anyway. I don't know what to do with these Aurora feelings.

I'm listening to stories about heroes and lost loved ones and driving through the neighborhood I missed a certain little girl who would have loved to have helped me choose my earrings for the wedding.

These Aurora feelings are just like the Tucson feelings. I am the other.


Jan 15, 2011 - Tucson, Arizona, U.S. - The ever growing Gabrielle Giffords vigil at the University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head when a gunman opened fire during an event entitled 'Congress on your Corner' in front of a Safeway grocery store January 8, 2011 in Tuscon, Arizona. It was reported that eighteen people were shot, including members of Giffords' staff, and six are dead, including one young child. One suspect is in custody. (Credit Image: © James F. Palka/

Send love and healing vibes and warm wishes to Aurora, denizens. I'm here to tell you that it really, really helps.

a/b from The Burrow at


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