“We were a national story for eight days, and then people moved on. But some people can never move on.” How one Colorado mom Is handling the impact of the shooting at her local King Soopers.
The weight behind those words sank down to my core as I listened to my good friend Kate recount her experience of the King Soopers shooting in Boulder, CO.
This King Soopers was her neighborhood grocery store. She recalled the eerie feeling of knowing exactly where everything was while listening to the news cover the victim’s experience.
This could have been her, I thought.
Kate and her family were on spring break visiting her parents when the text messages came flooding through asking if they were safe. Bewildered, Kate assured her friends that her family was safe and turned on the news to watch her neighborhood grocery store surrounded by SWAT team vehicles and riddled with bullet holes.
Her heart sank.
Knowing her two daughters would have questions when they drove past the store on the way home, Kate prepared herself to share the news with them. Her children are young elementary aged girls, so she emphasized only what was necessary to make them feel safe and informed.
Kate told the girls that their grocery store will look differently when they drive by it on the way home. She reassured them that they’re safe and they need not worry. She explained what had happened, emphasized that the man wasn’t well, and told them that the bad man had been caught and put in jail. This helped the girls feel much safer, knowing that the shooter wasn’t still on the loose. Kate also went on to explain that there were lots of kind people that banded together to help one another, showing that there is still so much good in the world, too.
The following week, many of the teachers made plans to help the children process the event. At such a young age, it’s tough understanding your emotions and feelings, so in class they had words like happy, scared, confused, and sad listed on the whiteboard for the children to write their name next to. Kate’s daughter seemed to be doing well based on this exercise.
It was the next day that things started to unravel. The student’s buzzed with “what if” questions. They all wondered – what if a bad person comes to our school? The teachers responded with a lockdown drill practice, so the children could take more comfort in knowing there is a safety measure in place for such an event.
But still. What if?
Kate said that she can’t let the “what if’s” stop her from living. She reflected on a time when she was 17 years old and a close friend died in a commercial airline crash. She knew that she had two choices then. She could be afraid of flying in a plane for the rest of her life or she could choose to not be scared at all.
Now she feels that similar energy confronting her as she plans her grocery shopping.
I asked Kate, “Will you go back to the grocery store if it ever reopened?” Even a month later it is still boarded and gated up. The perimeter is covered in gifts and letters from strangers paying their respects.
Kate said that if it did reopen, she would not let that evil derail her life. Recalling a fatal car crash that happened in an intersection near her old home, she described how passing through that area always felt sacred from then on. She surmised that King Soopers will always hold a sacred space as well. She and the locals will continue life, but they may never really move on from the impact.