Colorado tragedy becomes personal on shores of Maui

Tri-City HeraldAugust 2, 2012 

The dark night was shattered two weeks ago when tragic news exploded on the airwaves.

The Aurora, Colo., shooting had turned a carefree evening into one of horror.

Miles away in Hawaii, I was vacationing when the report came over the television, its sparse details unfolding. Suddenly, the late afternoon light in Maui was overshadowed with the misery of the moment.

Who were the victims, I wondered while the cameras focused on the theater? And what about their families and friends whose lives would be shaken — and forever changed — in the aftermath?

I breathed a prayer and clicked off the TV, so many answers coming later as the story unfolded.

For those who experienced the results of this loathsome act, heartache and shock was up close and personal. But 3,000 miles away on the sunny Kehai beaches, life seemed to be unchanged.

Or so I thought.

On my final day at the resort, my family having departed, I stored my luggage in the front desk office. There were still a few hours of sunshine to enjoy until my taxi to the airport would arrive.

It wasn't until I was retrieving my bags in the backroom when I learned the sun ceased to shine for one person on the island.

"I hope my flight isn't delayed like it was on the way over," I quipped cheerfully to a staff member who'd just come in. "But if that's all I have to complain about," I commented casually, "then I'm truly blessed."

She paused at my words, and then told me she had realized that same thing after the Colorado massacre.

"My good friend's son, Alex, was killed while shielding his girlfriend," the woman explained, her eyes tearing. "I wish you would pray for his mom and dad."

I assured her I would as she told me the rest of the story, noting that People magazine would be focusing on the victims. But as I started to reach for my carry-on luggage, I took her hands instead.

"Tell me his parents' names," I whispered as we bowed our heads in prayer, tears flowing as we remembered Tom and Caren's tragic loss of their firstborn child.

Minutes later, as the taxi whisked me to my flight, I reflected on the pervasive sorrow that had touched these distant shores. Aurora, Colo., may be miles away, yet so close in our hearts.

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