Thursday, March 24, 2011


“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  Christopher Reeve
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."  Ambrose Redmoon

“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.”  Felix Adler

            Tell me your story.  My heart loves to write, and to write with purpose is even more fulfilling.  It has always been at the back of my mind to write people’s stories, to share those stories with the world.  This will be my first attempt at doing just that. When you go to buy a car you don’t expect to have some spiritual revelation, or to hear a tragic story, well most people probably don’t.  You go to buy your car, plunk down your money, weasel the salesman who is weaseling you and hope for a decent interest rate.  I admit that when I walked onto the sales lot of Sisk Auto Mall that is exactly what my intentions were.  I was on guard that day, a few days ago I had visited another car lot and the salesman there had nearly shoved a car down my throat.  So my plan here was to hop out of my car, check price tags, hop back in, and drive like hell before the salesman even had time to reach me. 
            That plan failed.  I did hop out of my car, and did try to see the price tags, but none were present.  I could see the salesman approaching.  I decided to try to head off any inquiries by telling him I was paying by way of POA.  This usually slowed the sales people down, though admittedly not much.  Mr. Moore introduced himself, and told me that a POA was no problem, dang it!  I admit I was harsh on him at first, my last experience so firmly entrenched in my mind that I was refusing to give him an inch.  I asked the prices of the three vehicles I was looking at and then asked about warranties.  Mr. Moore answered my questions in this calm peaceful voice, so that when he asked if I would like to take a test drive, I agreed without really thinking about it.  His tone and manner had disarmed me.  There was stillness about him that I liked.  He wasn’t trying to throw a car at me and he appeared to be listening to what I was saying.  Shocking, I know.  He retrieved the keys in a timely manner, which was fortunate because I forgot my coat and it was drizzling out.  A true gentleman, he actually offered me his coat at one point in the conversation. 
            Of the test drive of the vehicle there isn’t much to tell.  I loved it the first time I slid into it.  Mr. Moore just sat peacefully in the seat next to me, commenting on the weather.  He asked how the vehicle felt, and beyond that he was quiet.  I really, really, liked that.  It gave me a chance to feel the vehicle, rather than dodge salesman quotes from the bible of the car salesman.  In fact, I brought up questions about purchasing the vehicle, and his only question was, when would I like to buy?  My answer was, today would be good.  It was on returning to the car lot that things began to unfold.  We had to wait for the finance guy (isn’t that always the case?), and so Mr. Moore filled the time by asking me if I liked fishing, horseback riding or hunting (yes to the first two, no to the third).  He showed me a picture of his little daughter with her horse.  The two looked like best friends.  I said as much to Mr. Moore who laughed and said yes, it was Chandler and Dixie against the world.  He said that his daughter had made him promise that if anything ever happened to her that he would not sell her precious Dixie. 
            I was surprised that a nine year old would be concerned that something would happen to her.  At first I was concerned that she might be sick, or someone she knew was sick.  The only other explanation that I could think of was that something tragic had occurred in her young life, that made her keenly aware that life is altogether too short.  Curious, I asked Mr. Moore about it.  My friend Mardi has taught me the importance of asking questions.  Mr. Moore told me that there had in fact been a tragedy in their family, quite recently too.  Turning back to his computer, he carefully typed in the words Seton Hall Shooting, and I was introduced to Jessica.
            Jessica Ann Moore.  Her pictures are beautiful, her story one of the most tragic I have come in personal contact with.  It is one thing to hear of a school shooting, it is quite another to sit across a desk from a father who lost what no father should bear to lose.  I vaguely recalled hearing about the Seton Hall shooting, but like most things that are not in direct contact with our lives I shook my head at the loss, gave a silent prayer for the family, and moved on with my life. Today that story came back full force and I sat in stunned silence as I listened to Jessica’s story.  The list of Jessica’s accomplishments is amazing.  Jessica had recorded two singles, co-founded a program called Drop Out to Degree, her college goal was to become a psychologist to help assist soldiers returning from war.  Jessica graduated from high school with honors and was an honor student at Seton Hall University.  The list of her accomplishments goes on and on.  Her greatest accomplishment, however, was her final act. 
            On September 25th 2010, Jessica was attending a fraternity party.  A man attempted to come into the party, however he was denied entry.  The man returned later that same evening, gun in hand.  The suspect began shooting into the crowd and proceeded to shoot Jessica’s friend in the face.  The man continued firing and in an act of bravery and courage, without hesitation, Jessica threw herself over her injured friend.  She was shot in the back of the head and killed.  Jessica died at age 19.
            As Mr. Moore gave me the details of the story, showing me pictures of his daughter and sorting through news stories I was consumed by the need to share this story.  It moved me in a way that I didn’t understand, nor did I care if I understood.  I simply wanted as many people to know Jessica as possible.  To know about her accomplishments, to know of her bravery, to know that she had given everything in service to another. 
            Mr. Moore told me that in a strange series of events Jessica’s headstone was being replaced.  At first I thought someone must have damaged it, but I was wrong.  The money for the headstone had been paid, but a few weeks later when someone went to check on the progress of the stone they found nothing but an empty building with a lock on the door.  Thankfully, Virginia Burial Company (I believe that was the name of the company) reviewed Jessica’s story and is generously replacing the headstone at no cost to the family. 
            After he had finished telling me Jessica’s story, I asked Mr. Moore if I could have permission to write about it.  He said that would be fine.  Mr. Moore told me that they had made t-shirts with Jessica’s picture on it.  At his home, the t-shirt is folded up in a chair, in Jessica’s chair.  Though Jessica may have left us too soon, we are blessed with her memory and the examples that she left for us to follow.  To me, Jessica is a beacon of courage and unconditional love.  I am truly blessed to have been honored with her story.  For those of you out there who are wondering, and hoping, yes Jessica’s friend survived.  Thank you, Jessica, God Bless You!

Links to Learn about Jessica  One of Jessica’s singles “I Cry”

No comments:

Post a Comment