GG in Houston

In this photo provided by the office of Rep Gabrielle Giffords, Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, stands with his wife as she looks from her bed at the Santa Catalina Mountains while on an outdoor deck at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) left the University Medical Center in Tucson to come to our fair city. Welcome, Gabby! She checked into the esteemed TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston’s Medical Center.

I say this like I know her or anything beyond what’s being reported in the mainstream media, and I do not. So don’t go asking me for personal details or to get you an autograph or anything. After my trip down there Thursday, I don’t have any plans to trek to the med center again, and besides that poor woman needs some privacy. She’s likely to be very tired after her trip from AZ to TX.

In the photo above, which was kindly provided by Giffords’s office, her husband, Mark Kelly, is by her side as she enjoys the beautiful scenery of the Santa Catalina Mountains while on an outdoor deck at the Tucson hospital on Thursday. Not that I’m complaining, but no one ever wheeled me outside in my bed in my multiple hospital stays this summer. But that’s ok, because really, who wants to be outside in Houston in the summer? And there aren’t any mountains to gaze upon anyway. After the terrible ordeal she went through, I’m glad Giffords got to go outside, after more than 2 weeks in a hospital room. She earned that trip, plus a whole lot more.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Giffords was critically injured at an event she was holding in Tucson on January 8th. She was going about her business, doing her job as a public servant and was shot by an idiot-jerk-birdbrain-fool-imbecile-jackass-whackjob whose name I won’t mention because he and his ilk don’t deserve one more second in the spotlight.

That idiot-jerk-birdbrain-fool-imbecile-jackass-whackjob killed 6 people and injured another 13, including Giffords. The fact that one of the 6 people killed was a 9-year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green makes me so mad I can’t even express the right words here. My fingers are flying across the keyboard, yet nothing of sense materializes, because how can we make sense of something so horrendous, so tragic, and so unnecessary?

This darling girl, who is the same age as my own darling girl, sounds like she was a fantastic addition to the human race. She had recently been elected to her 3rd-grade student council, and was at the “Congress on Your Corner”event at the local grocery store in Tucson, hoping to get up close & personal with her congresswoman.

Her mama says she can’t even put into words the depths of their grief, and the horror of “being robbed of our beautiful little princess.”

Christina-Taylor was the only girl on her Little League baseball team. We’ve had a girl on Payton’s baseball team a few times, and it really livens up the game. I’m a big fan of girl power in any form, and seeing a girl on a team with all boys does my heart proud. Little League and the world in general suffers a big loss with Christina-Taylor’s death.

She came from a baseball-loving family. Her grandpa, Dallas Green, managed the Phillies. Her daddy John supervises the group that scouts new talent for the Dodgers. I bet that little girl was fun to watch on the field. And I just hate that she’ll never again don her uniform and step up to the plate.

What a waste.

While this post started out as a welcome to Giffords to Houston, it’s taken another form and morphed into a memorial, if you will, to Christina-Taylor. She sounds like someone Macy would hang with, who I would enjoy having in our home.

I’m going to make y’all suffer through the wrenching story told by Christina-Taylor’s friend and neighbor, Susan Hileman, who took Christina-Taylor to the event that ended her young life.

This 58-year-old didn’t have any grandchildren yet and befriended Christina-Taylor. They hung out, played Pickup Sticks, and did the kind of things that my cousins do with my daughter. (Christina-Taylor cheated at Pickup Sticks, by the way, according to Hileman, which is another touching yet heartbreaking insight into this multi-faceted little girl.) They went to the zoo together, and if there was a movie Hileman wanted to see, she’d ask Christina-Taylor, “If I buy the popcorn, will you keep me company?” Sounds like what my dad says to Macy as they plan their movie dates.

As Hileman picked Christina-Taylor up for the “Congress on Your Corner” event, she asked Christina-Taylor’s mom, “Does she really want to do this with me? Is there something else she would rather be doing?” Roxanna Green replied, “Any place she goes with you, she’s happy.”

As they drove to the event, the two friends talked about what they might ask Giffords. Once they arrived and parked, Christina-Taylor asked Hileman if she had the keys. Apparently that was her job, because Hileman sometimes forgot and left her keys in the car.

Hileman had planned to take Christina-Taylor to lunch and to get their nails done after meeting Giffords, and would have her home in 3 or 4 hours. But that plan changed drastically and irrevocably.

I’m struck by how many times I’ve turned my children over to a friend or relative for an outing, much anticipated by both parties. I send them off without a second thought on my part or a backward glance on theirs. These connections, these events, these outings are what join us together as friends & family, and what weaves together the warm & fuzzy fabric of our existence.

Instead of an enjoyable and enlightening outing, Hileman and her young companion entered Hell. They were next in line to meet Giffords, and Hileman was telling Christina-Taylor that she could be the next Gabrielle Giffords, when gunshots rang out.

Hileman instinctively threw her body in front of Christina-Taylor’s to shield her from danger and was shot in the thigh, belly, and chest. She remembers seeing a hole in her new skinny jeans, but can’t remember any pain.

She does remember falling to the ground with Christina-Taylor, looking into the wounded girl’s eyes. Hileman had been shot and was bleeding, but was only concerned for Christina-Taylor. “Don’t you leave me, Christina-Taylor. Don’t you die on me,” she said as the two friends clung to each other.  A woman who arrived on the scene to help reportedly applied pressure to Christina-Taylor’s wound and asked, “Who was with this girl? Who is this girl?” Hileman answered, “She is my responsibility.”

Nine-year-olds don’t carry ID. So nobody but Hileman knew who Christina-Taylor was, and in the chaos of the crime scene, imagine the frantic moments before Hileman spoke up and claimed Christina-Taylor. That sweet girl was Hileman’s responsibility, and a big part of her world.

And now the rest of the world does indeed know who Christina-Taylor Green was. Sadly, it’s too late.

5 Comments on “GG in Houston”

  1. Ed says:

    Seems like you managed to find the right words after all. I’m moved and scared, happy and sad at the same time.

  2. Aw gads. Now I’m all misted up and totally moved.

  3. Christy says:

    And, did you know that sweet girl entered the world on 9-11? Yup, born on September 11, 2001. Entered in the midst of a tragedy and left this world in the midst of another. But, as her father stated, “The 9 years in between both tragedies were magic!” She was loved and will be missed.

  4. Jody Hicks says:

    Amen and amen. I couldn’t keep the tears back when I saw her picture for the first time and then the interview with Hileman. Macy was the first one who came to my mind too. Such tragedy.

  5. Mary the OINKteller says:

    I send my kids off with friends and relatives as often as possible. And you’re right. I never think the unimaginable might happen. I’m sure Christina-Taylor’s parents didn’t think so either. Sobering. I really like your blog and look forward to reading more. Thanks for visiting OINKtales.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s