How’s Life Been After Vegas Shooting for Survivors!

It has been nearly three weeks since the Las Vegas massacre and another victim has been laid to rest. On Friday, families and friends attended the funeral of 34-year-old...

It has been nearly three weeks since the Las Vegas massacre and another victim has been laid to rest. On Friday, families and friends attended the funeral of 34-year-old Las Vegas Metro police officer Charleston Hartfield. He was killed while trying to save fellow country music fans attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival when an onslaught of bullets rained down from a hotel. Fifty-eight people died. Hundreds more were injured.

This past Thursday, scores of people turned out for the symbolic “Vegas Strong” benefit concert to honor first responders and help provide solace to the thousands who walked away from the shooting physically unharmed — but not unscathed.

Misty Jones of Simi Valley, Calif. is one of those survivors.

The shoes Misty Jones wore the night of the Las Vegas shooting. "These shoes carried me on the most important run of my life...for my life," Jones wrote in a Facebook post.

Jones was at the route 91 concert on Oct.1. She did not attend Thursday night’s benefit concert — but has been chronicling on Facebook her thoughts, fears, and baby steps back into daily life since the shooting — including whether to return to Vegas for closure.

Jones tells NPR’s Lakshmi Singh how her Facebook posts have been helping her go through the healing process.

Interview Highlights


On the shoes that defined that fateful night in Vegas

Those shoes are the shoes that I ran for my life in. I pulled them out of the closet yesterday for the first time. In the post, I just talk about how I wore those shoes and they carried me through a run, the most important run of my life, for my life. And seeing them put me right back there. And it’s hard to explain but it’s just another trigger that takes you back to the day, the night…

You know, sitting in our hotel room later on and my husband trying to get me to take off my right shoe and I refused out of fear that I’d have to run again. And I sat on my bedroom floor with with those shoes in between my legs for a half an hour yesterday, just crying and remembering everything, remembering the sights and sounds, the smells.

On how a regular day can trigger a flashback to the shooting

There was a jack-hammer across the street from my house and I didn’t know it was there. And I was sitting in my bedroom and the sound of a jack-hammer sounds so similar to those shots we heard that night. And it wasn’t until that day I went to Joanne’s too, and the air conditioning kicked on, on the roof, and it’s one of those old ones so the metal rattles. So you look up in fear and your head ducks… It’s hearing all those sounds that take you back there.

And people that haven’t been through it take those sounds for granted. They’re normal to them and it’s not normal to us anymore.

On trying to heal

[Methods for healing are] really about what heals your own soul and that’s different for so many people. And mine has been my writing. My writing; what you’ve seen on Facebook. And I made those public so people can see them because I want people to hear the other side of the story. But then there’s my husband who’s getting back to his old normal self.

So it’s different for everybody. But mine has definitely been writing and for once in my life learning to put myself first and listening to my body and listen[ing] to what I need. If I need a minute, it’s okay to tell my husband or tell my boss or tell my children: “Mom needs five minutes.”

On whether she’ll return to Las Vegas

People hold up candles at a memorial service for Charleston Hartfield, a Las Vegas police officer who was killed when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival, in Las Vegas, Nevada on Oct. 1.

I thought I wanted to go back before they took the venues down. I wanted to see the gates that we came to, that we either had to take down or were closed… or we stood [in front of] for a second, wondering if we pushed it open, [if] there were two more gunmen on the other side just waiting to pick us off.

But I got a picture of where we were sitting and the first gate that my husband broke down when we started running. And I thought maybe I’m not as ready as I thought I was. But I think I’ll go back. I mean, we’ve committed to go to Route 91 next year. If nothing else, we’re gonna buy our tickets to prove that we are #CountryStrong and this guy isn’t gonna take us down.

And even if we don’t go, we have our tickets but I don’t know if I want to go back to the Mandalay Bay. I don’t know that I ever want to go back to the Strip. And if I do, I need to give myself time to do it.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

Finally today, it’s been nearly three weeks since the Las Vegas massacre, and another victim has been laid to rest. Yesterday, families and friends attended the funeral of Las Vegas Metro Police Officer Charleston Hartfield. He was killed while saving others who were caught in the onslaught of bullets that rained down from a hotel onto thousands of country music fans who were attending the Route 91 Harvest festival. Fifty-eight people died, hundreds more were injured.

This week, people turned out for the symbolic Vegas Strong benefit concert to honor first responders at the scene and help provide some solace for the thousands who walked away from the shooting physically unharmed but not unscathed. Misty Jones of Simi Valley, Calif., is among them. She was in Las Vegas at the Route 91 concert on October 1. She did not attend Thursday night’s benefit concert, but on Facebook, she’s been chronicling her thoughts, her fears and baby steps back into daily life since the shooting, including whether or not to return to Las Vegas for closure.

Misty Jones, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

MISTY JONES: Of course. Thank you.

SINGH: I wanted to start with your most recent Facebook and then sort of work our way back, if that’s OK. Your most recent post is a photo of sneakers, just a pair of black Converse shoes. Tell me about this post and these shoes.

JONES: Those shoes are the shoes that I ran for my life in. I pulled them out of the closet yesterday for the first time. In the post, I just talk about how I wore those shoes and they carried me through a run, the most important run of my life, for my life. And seeing them put me right back there. And it’s hard to explain, but it’s just another trigger that takes you back to the day, the night, you know, sitting in our hotel room later on and my husband trying to get me to take off my shoes, and I refused out of fear that I’d have to run again.

And I sat on my bedroom floor with those shoes in between my legs for half an hour yesterday just crying and remembering everything, remembering the sights, the sounds, the smells. And I decided to leave those shoes behind yesterday because I’d be devastated if something happened to them because I feel like they saved my life.

SINGH: Misty, what I also found interesting is – an excerpt from your post is – (reading) I never realized a siren would make me want to duck until a week ago. I never thought I’d jump and plug my ears because of noises the air conditioning made in Jo-Ann’s craft store. With all that said, I had the easiest day in a while today.

Tell me about that part of the post.

JONES: That day, there was a jackhammer across the street from my house. And I didn’t know it was there. And I was sitting in my bedroom. And the sound of a jackhammer sounds so similar to those shots we heard that night. And it wasn’t until that day I went to Jo-Ann’s too and the air conditioning kicked on on the roof. And it’s one of those old ones, so the metal rattles. So you look up and you fear and your head ducks. And you’re – it’s hearing all those sounds take you back there. And people that are haven’t been through it take those sounds for granted, and they’re normal to them. And it’s not normal to us anymore.

SINGH: What means of support have you gotten to help get you into and through this new normal?

JONES: I work for one of the most amazing employers I’ve ever worked for in my career. I’ve been a executive assistant for about 17 years now. And before we even got on the airplane or got in the airport at a quarter to 8 Monday morning, my employer had already sent us emails with our employee assistance program information. And they provided us with sessions to speak to a therapist. And they also offered me short-term disability, so I was able to take some time off work.

There’s also been federal and state that have stepped in and offered additional sessions for counseling. For two of us to go for a year would be $9,000. It’s been amazing. And it’s been a little bit of a stress relief to not have to worry about, am I going to now put myself in debt because of this sick man?

SINGH: Let me ask you, through your therapy, was there anything that immediately you were able to learn about how you could start easing back to a new normal?

JONES: It’s really about what heals your own soul. And that’s different for so many people. And mine has been my writing. My writing, you know, what you’ve seen on Facebook. And I’ve made those public so that people can see them because I want people to hear the other side of the story. And, you know, but then there’s my husband, who getting back to his normal is getting back to his old normal. So it’s different for everybody, but mine has definitely been writing, and for once in my life, learning to put myself first and listen to my body and listen to what I need. If I need a minute, and, you know, it’s OK to tell my husband or tell my boss or tell my children, mom needs five minutes.

SINGH: Misty, are you considering going back to Las Vegas? I know you didn’t make it to Thursday night’s Vegas Strong concert, but do you think that you ever plan to head back to Las Vegas anytime soon?

JONES: I thought I wanted to go back before they took the venue down. I wanted to see the gates that we, you know, came to that were – that we either had to take down or were closed or we stood out for a second wondering if we pushed it open, was there two more gunmen on the other side just waiting to pick us off? But I got a picture of where we were sitting and the first gate that my husband broke down when we started running. And I thought, maybe I’m not as ready as I thought I was.

But I think I’ll go back. I mean, we’ve committed to go to Route 91 next year. If nothing else, we’re going to buy our tickets to prove that we are a country strong and this guy isn’t going to take us down. And even if we don’t go, we have our tickets, you know. But I don’t know that I ever want to go back to the Mandalay Bay. I don’t know that I ever want to go back to that end of the strip. And if I do, I need to give myself time to do it.

SINGH: That’s Misty Jones of Simi Valley, Calif. She joined us on the line from San Diego, where her husband, Rob Jones (ph), and his band, Highway Star, is playing at the Moonshine. The band gives a benefit concert tomorrow night in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for both survivors and victims of Ventura County. Misty Jones, thanks again for sharing your story.

Source: wamc.com 

Photo Credit: Patch

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