By Som Lisaius,
TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Suzi Hileman was released from University Medical Center last week. But when she returned Tuesday for a follow-up visit with doctors, she couldn't help but notice the tremendous show of support for the victims.
Literally thousands of flowers, pictures and cards take up most of the hospital's front lawn. Hileman says the memorial is so representative of Tucson and how this community responds to tragedy. Hileman should know; she was in the middle of Tucson's worst tragedy just 18 days ago.
"We're not focusing on the horror, on the tragedy," Hileman tells KOLD News 13 from her Tucson home. "We're looking at the sad, at the loss and at the pulling together and moving forward."
In so many ways, that is how Hileman is dealing with the events of Jan. 8. The day she brought Christina Taylor-Green, a 9 year old girl and close family friend, to see Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
"That happened to us. That's not something we that we did," says Hileman, who suffered three gunshot wounds herself that day. "Someone decided to rain on our parade."
On this day, Hileman chose not to talk about the terrible events, but rather the healing that's taken place since. And part of that process is honoring Christina, who died that day in the shooting.
"She was also the kind of girl who would wake up every morning and tell her mom, 'Aren't we lucky mom? ...look at us, aren't we blessed?' And she wasn't being smarmy; this is who she was."
And who she'll always be to Hileman. Since the tragedy, the Green family has checked in regularly on the Hilemans, offering to bring food or whatever else they might need. That's just the kind of people they are, she says.
"I have a lot of wonderful friends. I've known a lot of people over my 58 years of life...and I've never in my life known anybody like the Greens."
The only other family Suzi might hold in a similar regard is the President and First Lady, who both visited Suzi in her hospital room just moments before the President addressed the nation from Tucson on Jan. 12. Understandably, Hileman was still very upset about what happened and how somebody could hurt so many innocent people. But in an instant moment of perspective, Hileman says, the President changed everything.
"He took my hands and he looked...I never understood the expression looked into your soul ... but he reached in and told me not to go there. 'You don't have to go there.' That I can look into the America I was showing Christina and that I could focus on 'our better angels'...his words."
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