Ten years ago today.
I was coaching my daughter in Phoenix when I got the news. I was told my friend Gabby Giffords had died and I had to find a place to sit down and absorb it all. That news was wrong but 18 others were shot and six people died, including Little League standout Christina-Taylor Green, the granddaughter of former MLB standout and manager Dallas Green.
Our old website, “TucsonCitizen.com” crashed because DA Morales (no relation) was the first in the world to break the story of the shooting. People around the globe were seeking answers.
My emotions break for the victims but also because I wasn’t there. The shooting took place so close to my home and I had plans to go to the event but I was out of town. The question of what I could have done to help haunts me but obviously not as much as the memory of the ones lost by the ones closest to them.
I was able to get back home and I rejected the offer to visit the victims in the hospital because they didn’t need me roaming the hallways. I decided to take some photos of the families gathering at the TMC Memorial and it was at that moment I saw healing already taking place but healing is a very long process.
Each of the victims have important stories but I will focus on Christina. I missed the opportunity to write about her as she most likely would have blossomed into a standout softball player at CDO. We will never know. It’s heartbreaking for us as outsiders but we know there are those who are beyond that stage. Unfathomable break.
We will never know who her children might have been. Her grandchildren. We know Christina would have made a positive difference as a woman because she has made such a positive influence as a young girl – forever young.
Christina is forever frozen in time but we are not. We have a responsibility to give her life meaning. Every act of kindness brings us closer to her.
Bob Dylan gave us the words, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” so long ago and its meaning escapes us now and then but it seems to always come full circle in moments like this. We really don’t have the answers we thought we did and we are continually learning – no matter what kind a false bravado we may claim.
We cannot bring Christina, John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dot Morris, Phyllis Schneck and Dorwan Stoddard back but we know the pain their memory causes might also bring us singular, fleeting moments of joy and calmness. It is in those moments where we can grow and learn.
And, Christina, I think of you often. I see your Angel Statue at Kriegh Park, overlooking your field. I see your name on the basketball court in Sporting Chance. I see numerous signs with your name on them as I drive around town. We named our Softball Player of the Year award after you.
You are very much alive in my soul and you remind me how very young I still am and how very far I must still travel.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org