I started college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in August 1998. In October, Matthew Shepard died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins after he was beaten and left for dead in a homophobic attack. Just a few months later, on April 20, 1999, I came back from an afternoon class and watched the Columbine massacre unfold from my dorm room. Most of my friends were from the Denver metro area and with six degrees of separation just about everyone had some connection to the school even if it was just a friend of a friend of a friend.
Those weren’t the only tragic events in the 6 years I lived in Colorado- there was a serial rapist who terrorized the town one summer (two victims were in my apartment complex) and then my apartment building half burned down just months before I was set to move to Pennsylvania.
When I remember that time in my life though, I usually only remember the good times- parties at the boys’ house of Matthews, skipping class and driving up to Estes Park on the first really nice spring day, the crazy ill planned trip to Steamboat one Fourth of July, BrewFest, the Avs winning the Stanley Cup, etc. Some of the best years of my life so far. The tragedies feel distant, removed. Time and space has, for the most part, muted my emotional memories.
The Aurora theater shootings have turned up the volume on those memories this morning. They haven’t released a full list of the victims yet and I’m terrified an old friend from college or grad school will be on it. I suck I keeping in touch with people and I’m one of those people who hates Facebook and doesn’t use it but today is one of those rare days I wish I did.
One victim who has been identified is hockey blogger Jessica Redfield of Mile High Hockey & an intern with the You Can Play project. I didn’t know Jessica, but the online hockey community is pretty tight knit and she touched the lives of many people we know.
Some heartfelt words from those who knew Jessica-
Cheryl Bradley, Mike High Hockey- “Avalanche correspondent Jessica Redfield victim of Aurora shooting”
Jesse Spector, AOL Sporting News- “Colorado shooting: Jessica Redfield was a passionate journalist- and a good friend”
Adrian Dater, Denver Post- “To my friend Jessica”
My condolences go out to all of Jessica’s friends and family and to the friends and families of all of the victims who are not yet identified.
To those still waiting and worrying, I sincerely hope you get word soon that all of your friends are safe and sound.