365 days have gone by. We have laughed, loved, celebrated different occasions, and from the outside looking in, we have moved forward with our lives. The truth is, not a single day has gone by without remembering our lost angels. Not a single day has gone by without a flashback or a hint of paranoia in a crowded space, and not a single day has gone by without a “thank you” to the Man upstairs.
22,000 people were together in Las Vegas that night celebrating life, and today we continue to celebrate the lives of those we lost. Since that horrific day, the Route 91 crowd has become a family. We talk to each other every day through support groups, we listen, we are there for each other. We all have loved ones in our lives who care, but no one understands what we have been and are going through and we are thankful for that. We don’t want anyone who doesn’t have to understand to know.
Personally, I have made it my mission to not be afraid to do something I love doing so much... going to country music concerts! I have been to about 3 this year, but unfortunately, the fear is still there and we leave every show before it ends so we can leave without a crowd or chaos. It’s something I’ve been struggling with, but just being at shows proves to me that I am getting stronger.
Everywhere I go, I check for the closest exits and the closest hiding spots. I try to figure out if a bullet could go through something so I know if it would be a good place to hide. This may sound crazy to most people, but it’s my new normal.
I even saw Jason Aldean at a private event. Granted, he didn’t sing the song (When She Says Baby), but we did get through Any Ol’ Barstool, which was the song playing when the shots first started. It gave me hope that maybe one day I can see his full show and possibly get through the song without fear. Unfortunately, music festivals are still not an option, though.
I didn’t plan on going back to Las Vegas, but I had to face my fears for work. We drove to the Mandalay Bay and passed where the venue once was. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do, but we got through it. If you find yourself in the city, make a stop at the healing garden where there are photos and memorabilia of those we lost, and tiles with the names of those who have visited. Honestly, I haven’t made it there. This journey for me isn’t complete yet.
As a RT91 family, we have held fundraisers, created nonprofit organizations, we have sent toys to the children of the victims, we have done random acts of kindness, we have reconnected with the people we were around when it happened, we have made new lifelong friends, and the list goes on and on. We have shown the world that despite the horrific act of one monster, love wins. #countrystrong