Bat Memories

There’s nothing to add to the disturbing story out of Aurora, Colorado, two weeks ago. No amount of television analysis or special edition tabloid coverage can fill the void to help us understand.

Violence tears away happy memories.

It was simply a tragic massacre accomplished at the hands of a man-child whose final sentence, by all rights, should begin with each affected family having 10 minutes of unsupervised “alone time” with him. Because the people who lost friends and family on that evening will never know what the victims may have aspired to.

I pray, though, that the eventual trial of this wizard (who shall remain nameless out of respect for his victims) will be swift and just--and sentencing perhaps severe enough to set an example for the next maniac waiting in the wings to destroy the lives of innocent and once happy people.

On that same weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, my wife and I shared the Batman movie opening event with our 15-year-old son. The local newly renovated movie house hosted a “Batman Marathon” showing the first and second episodes of the trilogy at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., then the new film was premiered at a minute after midnight.

It was quite novel, as you can imagine, but a nine-hour endurance test just the same.  When the last of the credits rolled by, it was nearly 3 a.m. and we were about punchy--but it was a really cool thing to have done.

The smile on Sam’s face was ear to ear, and the reactions from his buddies the next day as he sent word of his accomplishment through his social media was pure envy.  I think it will be something he’ll never forget the rest of his life; which was part of why I wanted to be sure we all went.

Memories are important. They are the chains that, when all strung together, represent the history of your life. They make you a person, make you unique; they form the opinions you have and the put swagger in your step.

I was blessed and had a childhood filled with beautiful moments that play over and over in my mind, like great old home movies.

My goal as a father has been to give Sam that same advantage in life. That’s why I coached his soccer and baseball teams, encouraged him to play an instrument and belong to school bands, and facilitated time with his grandparents.

We teach him about his Italian heritage, as well as his American advantages. We visit museums, historical sites, parades, picnics, fireworks, tree-lighting ceremonies and more.  These events are just as enjoyable for us, as we show him all that life has to offer and observe him taking it all in and letting it become part him.

As I stand in his bedroom doorway and bid him goodnight, he seems always prone to say, “Thanks for today, Dad. That was a really good time.”

My blessing is that he is just as prone to say that on a rainy day where we did nothing more than watch a movie together as he is on a day we spent the whole afternoon at an amusement park. So often anymore, he is simply my greatest joy. Seems family is at the root of all enduring happiness and memories.

And that is what this gun-laden, painted-haired devil took away from all the survivors; any potential for enduring memories.

Bullets do not discriminate. They rip through all flesh equally. Among the victims, heroic reports of men who shielded their wives and girlfriends with their very bodies resulted in four noble deaths. The families of these brave soldiers will never be the same.

And for what crime? For going to the movies with their families.

There is no way to make sense of senseless crimes, but it is right to pause and reflect on how easily the victims could have been any one of us or any one we loved. There but for the grace of God go I.

But I have to tell you that before the third film, I snuck three hamburgers and a big bag of fries into the theater, as we were starting to get hungry after the first six hours and popcorn wasn’t cutting it. I had simply run to the local burger joint, loaded my cargo pants with the wrapped food, and broke it all out when we were seated for Act III.

The three of us giggled with guilt as we downed the contraband, and my wife commented that she was surprised I was able to do that given how tight the security had been. Who could have possibly predicted the irony of that comment?

Keep a good thought and say an earnest prayer for the victims from Colorado--both the living and the dead. And please realize, my friends, we are all among the victims.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at