Goodbye Noah

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This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. Many of you already know what I am going to say—you saw it on the news or social media—but I feel like I owe it to the rest of you to explain where I’ve disappeared to and why.

The truth is, I’ve fallen into a box of tissue and my nose is raw from crying and I can’t climb out. Our family has experienced a tragedy beyond our wildest nightmares—and I don’t know how to make sense of the world or God or life anymore.

Please forgive the brevity and lack of details as I tell this story. Until the final autopsy, toxicology, and police report get released, I can’t speak to specifics.

As some of you know, my oldest son Noah was an alcoholic. But you may not know he also suffered from bi-polar/ manic-depression. A couple years ago, he stopped taking his medication. I believe this decision contributed to the psychotic break he experienced on October 31st, 2015. 

As reported in the papers, that morning Noah tried to light his apartment on fire. And then he walked out onto the street with several guns and randomly killed the first three people he saw. Not long after, he died in a shootout with the police.

There are no words to describe our utter shock, grief, and horror. And I can’t fathom the heartache and pain of those families whose lives were torn apart that day. All three of Noah’s victims were parents.

As some of you know, once upon a time I had a showdown with God about Noah. I knew I couldn’t trust God to keep Noah safe or alive. I couldn’t surrender him to God’s care until I was willing to do so “no matter what,” willing to accept that the only way Noah could ever truly be safe was in some eternal realm of Big Love that reaches way beyond what happens on earth.

I believe that’s where Noah is now.

Sometimes, I sense Noah’s presence. In the early days after he died, I heard him say, “Mom, don’t you get it? I’m way closer to you now than I ever was when I was alive.”

I won’t try to eulogize Noah here. But I will tell you that the Noah I raised and remember was a kind and caring man. He was our gentle giant in the family, and so tenderhearted. Once, when we still lived back in Oregon, Noah accidentally drove over a trail of baby quail crossing the road. When he looked in his rearview mirror and saw clouds of baby feathers he was so devastated he cried. 

This is the Noah I will always remember. And it’s why I know if he had survived and been returned to his right mind, he never could have lived with what he had done. It might sound strange, but I’m grateful Noah died that day, even as I’m sorry for the police who had to shoot him. 

Honestly, I don’t believe the Noah I know was even there. 

I don’t know if I will blog about this or anything else again anytime soon. I want so much to be sensitive to the victims of this tragedy. I can only hope they have received half the outpouring of love and care that we have.

Here are links where you can contribute to the victims’ families. It would mean so much if you would.

Love always, Heather

Christy Galella

Jennifer Vasquez

Andrew Myers

 

P.S. I don’t know if I can answer comments, but feel free to leave them.

P.S.S. I had turned all my posts private and am only halfway through turning them back on. Not sure if it’s even what I should do. Thanks for your patience. I apologize to all my faithful readers who may have felt cut off when I quit blogging, dumped RAW, and got very quiet.

Author: Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

132 thoughts on “Goodbye Noah”

  1. Megan,

    As Jennifer Vasquez’s cousin who now sees how desperately hard this is on her daughters, I feel your anger. I’m angry too. But I think your anger is misdirected. Noah was a grown man. How could Heather or anyone else be responsible for his actions? Heather is a mother who lost her child, too, but more than that, she has the additional pain of knowing he took three other people’s lives. Megan, your anger is valid. Feel the anger. Scream at God. He can take it.

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  2. Heather,

    I wrote an email message to you on November 13, but I do not know if you ever received it, and I want to make sure that you see what I had to say only a couple of weeks after the tragedy that forever linked our lives. Here it is:

    My name is Rebecca Wilson. Jennifer Vasquez was my cousin. Honestly, I am not sure what to write, but as a Christian, I feel compelled to tell you how sorry I am for what you are going through and how sorry I am for what Noah went through and for how his life and my cousin’s life ended. I have read your book over the past couple of days because I needed some answers. I don’t know yet if I found what I was looking for; everything is still surreal. But this one thing I do know: we are all sinners. We are all broken. Jesus died for and loved Noah just as much as he does you and me and as much as he did my cousin Jennifer.

    I’ve been staring at my screen for the past five minutes after writing that last sentence because I don’t know what else to say, so I won’t say anything else right now.

    I may write to you again, but if you don’t want to read it, you don’t have to. And you can write to me if you want, if it will help in any way.

    With much love,
    Rebecca

    Now fast forward three months. Throughout this time, I have checked often to see if you had started posting again, so I am glad to see that you did a couple of weeks ago, but I have only just realized it today.

    These last several months have been devastatingly hard, especially on Jennifer’s two daughters, one of whom is only sixteen and is at that critical time in her life when she needs her mom.

    It has not been lost on me the irony that two of the victims that day, one of whom was Jennifer, were women with alcohol and/or substance abuse problems themselves but who were working hard to turn their lives around. I drove from the Little Rock area to Springs after it happened so I could be with my family there and attend Jen’s funeral. While in town, I felt compelled to follow the same path Noah did on his last walk. Then I stood on the porch that Jennifer had been on, and I tried to imagine Noah walking toward her with his guns, and I wondered if she even had time to realize what was happening. I talked to the director of the home and was so happy (yet it was bittersweet) to hear that Jen was having great success in her recovery. I was even happier to learn from one of the leaders at her church that Jen had recently become a Christian. More than anything, that was what I needed to hear and know–that she was with Jesus.

    Jennifer had had a hard year. Her mom and dad, my aunt Betty and uncle Tony, both passed several years ago at different times but in the same year, and that is what triggered her downward spiral. They left behind three children: Anthony, David, and Jennifer. The three siblings were very close–always have been. In fact, the entire Vasquez family is close. Cousins are more like siblings, and aunts and uncles are more like extra sets of parents. The last time I saw Jennifer alive was last May when her oldest brother Anthony died from complications of pneumonia. David had been in the hospital when Anthony died and was told that he could not leave the hospital because he was too sick (from complications with diabetes), but he left anyway because he could not bear NOT seeing his older brother laid to rest. A couple of weeks later, David died, and Jennifer was left as the sole surviving member of her family of origin.

    I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it all, and I have asked God a million times since that day why He would allow this to happen, but I rejoice in the fact that He prepared Jen for that day. For forty or so years when she was on this earth, she was lost without Him, but He knew what was going to happen (God was not surprised by what happened that day), so within the last couple of years of her life, He had nudged her toward Him. This story could have had such a sadder ending! Yes, I weep for our loss. How we miss her! I weep for Jennifer’s daughters. But I do not weep for Jennifer, for she is truly in the best place!

    And if it’s true that Noah was a Christian, then he and Jennifer are in the presence of Jesus together–fellow substance abusers humbled and forgiven and made whole at the feet of Jesus.

    I don’t know anything about you except what I read in your book not long after that fateful day, but I was terribly concerned about you that you would relapse into drinking or even try to kill yourself and there would be yet another victim in this horrible, senseless tragedy.

    Heather, let’s not let Satan win this one. Let’s use it to bring people to Jesus. Let’s use it to draw closer to Jesus ourselves.

    I love you.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Rebecca

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    1. Oh Rebecca, I’m sobbing after reading this. How can I thank you? What a gift of grace. I can’t understand what happened and maybe never will, but I share your perspectives offered here. You were right to worry if I could stay alive and sober. Some days I don’t want to do either. But I think this pain is so big and so deep and unrelenting that I know alcohol could barely touch the surface. And I have to live because I have other people, so many, who love me and need me to make it through. I have at times been crazy with grief and anger at God too. I can’t believe how my gentle soul of a son could cause so much violence and loss–loss that as you described ripples out so far. Thank you for sharing your family’s story here. I know many who read it will be encouraged and will keep you in their prayers. Love in return, Heather

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  3. Noah was a good friend of mine, we worked together and I miss him deeply and on a daily basis. The person who committed these atrocities was not the guy I knew. I know how hard it is for me on a daily basis not being able to look up and see him but, I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through.

    Another friend and I had taken him fishing not even three weeks prior to this. He seemed at one with himself and one with the earth. He said to us “I see why you guys do this. It’s not about even catching fish at all. It’s about getting out and enjoying the outdoors.” Probably my fondest memory of that particular trip is when he jumped in the water to try grab a fish that he had caused us to lost. It was hilarious. He was in the water up to his knees trying to grab the fish, he even got his hands on that slippery trout twice. I miss the big guy so much.

    My deepest and sincerest condolences to you and your family. I can’t hesitate to tell you enough that if you guys need anything please let us know.

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    1. Don, oh my. You have no idea how much this means to me to hear a story of Noah fishing with friends so close to his death and the insanity of what happened. It’s so baffling when you set these pictures next to each other. You knew the real Noah and it means a lot to know he had friends at work who saw his soul the way you got to that day. I don’t think Noah had any idea how loved and love able he was. This note is priceless to a grieving mom, so thank you. I hope his death inspires you to love and live with just a little more risk and fun. Hugs and thanks, Heather

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  4. Noah was my friend here in Colorado. My thoughts and prayers have turned his way and yours since that day. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in this; your very trying time.

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  5. I saved this blog for a time when I would be alone to read it quietly. I had no idea. I am weeping. I cannot even begin to imagine… What courage for you to post and open yourself up to comments. May Jesus hold you. Rock you. Comfort you in ways that only those who survive such tragedy experience. I just spoke at a recovery event in Houston two weekends ago. I quoted your book… I am just so very sorry for each person involved/touched by this tragedy.

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  6. Heather, I am so sorry. I have loved your writing and your courage. I have read your post on God cannot be trusted to give us the outcome we want to small groups that I have led. My heart hurts for all involved. It is as if God as touched each of your lives, where from now on there is a new normal, a normal with the pain and loss. I thought of Jacob and how he walked with a limp after God touched his hip. I pray when we all get to heaven, it will so exceedingly go beyond any dream we have, that our lives here on earth will be swallowed up in that victory that we do not yet understand. Only with eternity in the balance could any of this pain on this earth be made sense of. And on that day, I pray we will find that God will have a parade for all of the prisoners of war, who were not strong in the face of the enemy, who were overtaken by the enemy by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I pray that we will have compassion, and all things will be made right. I know God understands when in our limited bodies and minds we are angry with him. And on that day when he reveals his ultimate goodness, I pray he will shshshsh those of us still hurting and grieving with a love we have not yet discovered.
    My heart is sad for all of the victims in this tragedy.

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      1. My heart is broken for the loss of ALL concerned here. God uses broken. Bad things happen to good people. We live in a broken world. We have to have patience and wait on God. We must live by faith not by sight, live by His promises. Trust God and give thanks. He will deliver us. I just finished your book Sober Mercies then went to your blog. God leads us to what we need. I am now struggling with a nephew I’ve raised since 6 months old (he’s 13 now) I fear some of the same things are going on with him. I have to trust God for the outcome.

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  7. I am saddened of your loss and the unexplainable events surrounding it. I have said so many times as events unfold in the media each of those people (victim or responsible party) are at the very least someone’s son or daughter. God is able to guard your heart and mind. I clung to that promise in Philippians after 9/11/2001. I hid behind God, allowed Him to carry me, He walked beside me and picked me up again. He can be trusted. Praying for you, your family and the family of lost in this horrible event.

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  8. I worked with Noah and it took me by surprised that he could have done such a thing. He was such a kind person and well liked. My prayers are with your family and the family of the victims.

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  9. Thank you for your post! I worked with Noah for several years and he and my Husband were friends. Your words have really helped us with our healing process. We pray daily for all impacted by this tragedy and uplift your family in those prayers. I am greatful for your courage and willingness to share your thoughts and feelings. Hugs to you and our continued prayers for you and family!!!

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  10. Hi Heather…My name is Heather also and I, too, have a son like Noah. His name is Mitchell and he is 28 years old. He has been homeless for almost 5 years because he won’t stay on his medication. He was diagnosed with Schizo-Affective Disorder when he was released from the military in 2007. The son I raised is not the son I have now. He was a straight A student, active in church, and close to his family. Today, none of that is true. At the time of this writing, I don’t even know where he is. I live with the fear that my son will do what Noah has done. I feel so helpless against the face of mental illness. I have had Mitchell committed, only to have him released after two weeks with medication he won’t take. Our mental health care in this country is appallingly inept at helping people like Noah and Mitchell.
    Please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I don’t know that we will ever understand the “why’s” but I know we love our sons even without understanding.

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    1. Oh Heather Jystad, my heart goes out to you. I can not even imagine the fear and worry. You are a strong woman and you and all your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Our mental health system is appalling. Hearher, you have a special place in my heart…

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    2. Heather I am so sorry to hear about your son. It would be so painful to know even know where he is. I know that sick, scared feeling. I pray for your son and you that this world is kind enough to bring him home and that someday he feels safe and well, even if it’s in heaven. Hope you have support of plenty of friends and loved ones. Best, Heathat

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      1. Thank you Heather…one day none of us will know the suffering of this world any longer. May we love wholly and tenderly while we are still here. And may we continue to work for a better one. I will continue to lift your sweet, kind heart to The Rock that is Higher than we are…He is able to turn ashes into beauty. H

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  11. Oh Heather, I can’t help but pray for you… Noah’s beautiful smile won’t leave my mind’s eye. I cannot imagine the grief in losing your precious boy in this way… it is the unthinkable. Our family is praying for you, Dave, Nathan and all the precious ones impacted by this tragedy. I hope you are feeling Jesus’s strong grip on you.

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  12. I’ve never posted a comment on this blog, but have been following it for several months. Your book and blog helped me choose sobriety– thank you so much. My heart is with you, and prayers.

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  13. Heather, you have been in my thoughts and prayers since I heard about your tragedy. I’ve read your book, followed your blog, and have been encouraged as a fellow writer to lay myself bare on the page like you do. I will keep you in my prayers, sweet sister. Thank you from all of us who have been touched by you.

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  14. Heather thank you for your response. I would like to start by saying I am not blaming you or judging you. I just dont fully understand you. I would also like to say I am not angry at least not with you . I am however baffled , sad dismayed and a whole slew of other emotions . But certainly not angry at you. I feel sorry for you and am saddened to read about your anger with God and that you did not trust Him with Noah. That is between you and God I suppose.
    What I do not understand is how someone with such extreme mental illness was legally able to own weapons such as he did. And honestly that is what makes me angry. I am angry that he was able to own them legally. I am angry that the police departnent did not respond for over 30 minutes before my niece was shot. She could have been saved. But they didnt respond because he was not breaking the law walking down the street with those guns slung over his arm. I am angry about the extreme incompetence displayed by the 911 operators in this situation placing the calls in a low priority.
    Had they responded sooner your son might still be alive and my niece certainly would be. And honestly if this happened to me and it was my son, honestly I would spend the rest of my life fighting for legislation to stop this horrible cycle of gun violence commited by the menrally ill that go unchecked. I am sorry for the battles you must endure, but you as his mother could make a huge difference and help stop this
    maddness!

    Perhaps you might consider ….

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    1. Thank you for this. I could not agree more that people diagnosed with mental illness should not be allowed to own guns–especially not when they refuse medication or to be under a doctor’s care. But this is a huge issue that has so many legal implications… I also know this approach can stigmatize the mentally ill worse than they are. I don’t have answers, I just know that I hated that Noah had guns! I didn’t think he should be allowed, but honestly–I didn’t think about it much because never in my wildest dreams did I think of him using them this way. That happened to those “other” families, not ours–or so I thought. I think the open carry law is insanity. I also hate that we can’t do anything to force/help people get treatment unless person is a clear danger to himself or others. It leaves so many homeless mentally ill people like my dad was at the mercy of the streets. At times, I could not get him the help he needed either because he wasn’t an obvious “danger to himself or others.” So we had to sit around and wait to hear he’s tried suicide again–and wala–guess what! Hhe’s a danger to himseslf. I share your anger and frustration. My father did eventually take his own life. I think you misunderstood what I said about not being able to trust God with Noah–as I wrote in my book and in the blog “Why God Can’t Be Trusted”–what I meant is that I can’t pray for a specific outcome and trust God will give it to me. HOw many Christian parents pray every day for their kids safety and then they get in a car crash? I meant that if was going to trust God with Noah–which I decided to do, did do–it would have to be no matter what, meaning that if God took him, I would trust that God was still loving him. I can’t pray for outcomes, I can only trust God with the outcomes. I was talking about a kind of faith that is much greater than what happens on earth—because what happens here is is subject to a broken, sick world. I prayed all the time for God to keep Noah safe–but I agreed with God that if he took Noah, I would STILL trust he was safe in God’s care. Now I’m being put to the test on that in a way that exceeds my worst nightmares. And right now, I can only hope I do get to that point. Right now, I’m so devastated and angry at God. I’m angry at Noah–how I wished I could control him and influence his choices. But he was a 33 year old man. Thank you for not being angry at me. I loved Noah with every fiber of my being and would have done anything in my power to make this not have happened. It feels like a big mean cosmic joke, not to mention an impossibility. Thanks for listening and for caring enough to write back and to let me know you aren’t judging or hating me. I’ve got so much of that going on right now for myself I can’t bear much more. Best, Heather

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      1. Heather,
        Please don’t judge or hate yourself. Noah’s brain was broken that day…in a society that isolates judges, stigmatizes, stands in the way of mentally ill people getting help for themselves, makes it extremely difficult for those who love someone who is mentally ill to get them help….

        Praying Grace and Love for you today.

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      2. Heather –

        I’m so glad to see you responding to some of these posts. And, believe it or not, I’m excited to see you express your anger against God.

        How could you not be angry?? I’ve learned many things from you, my friend, but one of my earliest impressions from you is the importance of honesty–first to yourself then to others. Your anger is honest. Anger at God AND Noah.

        Your journey hasn’t been easy. Some people are destined to travel through many valleys with only glimmers of sunlight. I can’t say if that’s your journey, but it thrills my heart when you DO see sunlight, because that’s when you praise the God who made the sun.

        Love to you and your family, dear one.

        Robin

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  15. i know none of you. that may even make the fact that my heart is broken for you all. i’m not a parent, but i don’t think that makes a difference. We all know unspeakable pain. i am so seeing you all in God’s peace. Where was God that day? i know without a doubt that He was there. I’m so sorry that any of you had to face that kind of pain. I am just praying that some level of peace returns for you.

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  16. Heather, I love you. I continue to pray for you. I think you are brave. Reading your exchanges with the family members of those who were killed brings tears to my eyes. You are such a lovely soul. Sending big hugs across the pond.

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  17. Remember the book Sober Boots I gave you to read. Just opened this post from the author, Heather Kopp. Horrible, horrible news….

    >

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  18. Heather,
    I am somehow relieved of the burden of wondering why and how the parents of Noah never came forward. I watched my sister Vanessa, and Megan, Christy’s sister suffer in horror. I watched John and Bruce suffer in relative silence, both fix it men, without the tools needed to fix it. We all winged it together, waiting for the sky to fall, since the world was no longer the same. While all of us wondered, didn’t he have parents? Where are they?
    I am the mother of 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters. I cannot fathom, nor do I ever want to endure or fathom the loss of a child. But I do know this, there has never been a time that I did not, or would not stand in the gap of their strengths and their weaknesses . It really is simple, If one of my children hurts someone, I am the first to bring the apology. The first with empathy, sympathy, and compassion,
    And while no reasons for what happened will change anything, or bring our Christy back, somehow the absence of Noah’s parents response hurt even more. Like it did not matter. That you took the advise of well meaning advisers reminds me of the “wonderful counselors ” in the record of Job. Well meaning , but dead wrong.
    Job later recognized that it was fear that kept him from the promises of God. Fear always binds us and keeps us from being our best.
    So my prayer for you is to extinguish your fear. No one here wants anything from you,(which is the only reason I can imagine those wonderful counselors and advisers would have offered such poor advice.) So let fear not be the thing that limits your ability to truly love, and act on the things you know to be good and right and just
    I am sincerely sorry for your loss
    J Bowman

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    1. Ms. Bowman, thanks for taking the time to write this. I am sick with regret that I brought more pain to your family by not immediately reaching out. I spent the early days under psychiatric care here in New York City because I was crazed with grief and shock and wanted to die. At some point I wanted to reach out but our entire family was advised from many corners that we shouldn’t have contact while it’s still an open, ongoing investigation–which it remains. We still don’t have a police report, autopsy or toxicology report.I hope you’ll keep in mind that I am only one of 4 parents and I have 4 other grown kids who also want have some say in what’s made public. I think my counselor/doctors/family have been more concerned with my mental well-being than anything else. I don’t have contact info for your family, but when the time is right, when the reports are released, and I have the support of my family, I will express my condolences and talk as directly as possible to your family if that is still what you want. I understand your anger and why you feel like I’m behaving cowardly. I am so sorry. And I’m so sorry for what my son did to your family. It was so senseless and sick and I am sick at the thought of your anguish. This is all so painful, and I think future conversations like this should happen in private through email or chat. I hope you agree and I pray for your mercy.

      I apologize that I misprinted Mr. Bowman first when meant to say Ms.

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      1. Who can even begin to imagine the horrendous feelings that surround everyone involved in this tragedy. Everyone is unique and nobody knows how someone feels when their world is shattered . So many lives were shattered on that awful day and really it is sad to see anyone making a judgment of someone else’s reaction to a nightmare situation. I really think people do their best when they are thrown into shock. Sometimes it may look cowardly, sometimes it may look brave, sometimes it may look aloof. Who really knows what someone else is feeling . Our only hope i guess is that we act in a way that honors others and honors ourselves. No judgment. So very sorry for everyone involved. Praying that something can learned about mental illness, addiction. ..and praying that healing takes place.

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        1. Heartbroken to read your post.
          I can’t even begin to imagine the horrendous feelings that surround everyone involved in this tragedy. Everyone is unique and nobody knows how someone feels when their world is shattered . So many lives were shattered on that awful day. As a parent, I cannot even begin to grasp what I would do if I were on either side of this devastation. I really think people do their best when they are thrown into shock. Sometimes it may look cowardly, sometimes it may look brave, sometimes it may look aloof. Who really knows what someone else is feeling . Who really knows what is the “right ” reaction. The only hope I guess is that we act in ways that honor others and honor ourselves. No judgment. So very sorry for everyone involved. Soo sorry for everyone who has suffered a loss here. Praying that something can learned about mental illness, addiction. ..and praying that healing takes place.

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      2. Your an amazing person and taking in a lot of responsibility for something completely out of your control. I saw Noah everyday and NEVER could have thought he would do something like this. We had him in our home with our 3 children and enjoyed his company. Again never saw him as a man capable of such an act. I believe you have the right to grieve the loss of your son and I don’t think you should have to apologize for it. You are a huge blessing to so many! I pray Gods peace over you!!!!!! Xoxoxox

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  19. Heather, when I didn’t see any posts on your blog or Facebook, I googled your name to see where you were. I was so sorry to read what happened to your son, Noah. You, Noah, your family and the families of the victims as well as the 3 that lost their lives have been in my thoughts daily. Sending hugs and healing prayers to you, Heather.

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  20. I am so incredibly sad to read this. I only know you from your book and blog. I had no idea. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain you’re living in. I have prayed for you today and will continue to do so. I pray you experience inexplicable peace in the midst of the storm. I pray you will not blame yourself. I pray for all the families involved. Grace and peace.

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  21. Sending prayers to you and the families touched by this tragedy. I want you to know that your blog has been a godsend to me! I hope and pray that you will bless all of us with your inspirational words when your heart is ready. “God loves you and Noah with an everlasting Love”

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  22. Thank you Heather. You have, are and always will be an inspiration to so many because you put our thoughts into words. I think that most who know you would understand this is the only way you would have been able to communicate. I missed your posts and knew something was up, but no one could have imagined to this degree. I still will not hold to the belief of randomness. Nothing in God’s world happens by mistake. But right now, we are all thinking what a big mistake God made. We will never know till we meet Him and maybe sometime in life, as only the recovering addict can, we can see how this experience can benefit others. Take your time, Heather. We need you back as a blogger. Your great gift carries great responsibility. The one who touches others lives with her God given perspective can only give if she has gone through it herself. Grace and peace to you and all involved.

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  23. Heather, we love you! Just take care of yourself and your family. We are upholding you in prayer and when you don’t have the strength to utter the words yourself, know that there are hundreds of us praying for you around the world. Much love from Cuenca, Ecuador.

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  24. Oh Heather. This post literally brought me to my knees weeping. I’m so sorry for your loss and for the loss of the others. I recentlh lost my mom to the awful combo of mental illness and addiction and my older brother could soon follow for the same reasons. I truly understand what you describe about the way of release, oh and all of it. I can’t even type for my tears. Truly grieving and praying for all involved. Thank you for your bravery to share. Our loved ones need more help than is available in many situations and I appreciate you doing your part to raise awareness. Oh Lord, be near.

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  25. Heather, as you may know, our son Cory is bi-polar. I hold him up as I hold you up, along with Noah and the other families devastated by this tragedy. It’s startling but true that love stands above this mortal coil–that love is emanating from He who is seated at the right hand of the Father.

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  26. Much love to you. Prayers for more grace when all the grace is still not enough. Thank you for posting. I can not imagine the grief, thank you for trusting us try to share just a bit in the weight of it.

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  27. OH my, how utterly brave and wonderful of you to share this. I don’t know you, but you put into perspective these news stories I hear daily. There are real people behind those stories, hurting, broken, grieving human beings. May the God of all peace wrap you in His comforting arms today. Thank you for sharing. (((hugs)))

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  28. Dear Heather
    I live one the other side of the world, but your book and blog has been life saving to me. When I read you post today, I was devastated for you. I walked around with such a heavy heart. I truly hope that you will be encouraged by all these messages of love and support. Don’t believe the lies that will drown you… You know your son was beautiful. Your book was brave. Your raw honesty has given hope to 100s. Hold on…

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  29. I am so very sorry for the pain in everyone’s life (Heather/her family & the famiies who lost loved ones) because of this tragedy. I just God for His merciful help!

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  30. The guilt must be so overwhelming for you Heather. No matter how old your children are, you feel a sense of responsibility as a Mother for their actions and status good or bad. Ego does that to us. We take on emotions of pride or shame.
    Is this how God loves us ? I have no answers, but I hope that his justice is restorative. That it restores peace.
    If I had not read your book or blogs and got to know your life as you described it, how different my view would have been.I think that I would have blamed his upbringing. This is why it’s so shocking, because he doesn’t fit my expectation of what a murderer should look or be like?
    I hope you and your family and the victims family are somehow restored through this.
    Love Steph.

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  31. Heather, please know that what Noah did in no way diminishes what you have done. Your book has been a huge blessing for me as I struggle to stay sober. As a Christian I feel like such a failure that I struggle. I want to be right in the middle of God’s will and I know that it is not his will for me to drink. Thank you for your honest book. Blessings, Becky

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  32. I’m so very sorry to hear this happened. i’m crying reading this. i can’t fathom how you must feel. prayers for you and your family, the victims and your son.

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  33. I cannot begin to imagine your loss as a mother, for that I am sorry. Christy Galella was my cousin, I grew up with her. The loss within my family is unimaginable. I was in Colorado Springs days 2 days after the event to support my family. I drove non-stop from San Antonio, Tx. I can honestly tell you I have never cried so much in my life than on that road trip, I don’t know where I got the energy from to make such a drive by myself, without stopping. All I could think about was hugging my family & somehow taking their pain away. My Aunt Vanessa Rich (Christy’s mother) Megan Williams (Christy’s sister) Bruce Rich (Her Stepfather) & John Galella (Christy’s Father & many others within my large family) will never be the same again. none of us will. But we are a close family, always there for eachother; If anything, this has made us stronger, more appreciative. I hope something positive was able to manifest for you & your family-I mean this sincerely.
    With that said, it would have been nice if you had contacted my family (mainly my Aunt Vanessa Rich-mother to mother) personally, instead of all of us having to read a public blog months later. But I guess everyone has their process. However, it felt like you didn’t care or have empathy. We often wondered how you were-what is happening, where is she? That’s just my personal feelings. The healing process is long & tedious (do we ever fully heal? or just cope?), anyways..

    Take care & thank you.

    -Ryan Condry

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    1. Ryan, thank you for your comment and for trying to believe the best about our family’s choice not to reach out to your family right away. Back when it happened, my first instinct was to do what you said and contact relatives of victims to say how very sorry we were about our son’s actions. But I was strongly discouraged from doing that and I’m not sure why. I was told the public statement was it for now and maybe down the right it might be appropriate to do/say more. It breaks my heart to hear of your families pain and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t ache with the knowledge of how far and wide the pain is spread. It’s overwhelming, as you know and I”m just getting out of shock and trying to get my feet under me. I apologize for not contacting the mother directly. I had no idea if any of the victim’s relatives would want to hear from the shooter’s mother. I was probably scared/still am scared that any advance like that might trigger an angry response. I”m so baffled and sick over what happened. Please know I am genuinely sorry for your family’s horrorible, inexplable, unbearable pain. Thank you for not hating me because I’m Noah’s mom. My shame is so great. I don’t know how to say the right thing. Except to all of you: Our family would give anything to change what happened and we are so terribly sorry our son did this. Thanks for writing, Ryan.

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      1. Heather, I am one of Christy’s and Ryan’s aunts; Vanessa is my sister. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability in your post and my heart goes out to you. I understand as a mother how difficult it must have been for you to know what to do and when. There are no roadmaps to guide us through something like this. The world changed that day for all of us involved in this tragedy. Ours is a large, close family and Vanessa is our youngest sister. We will pass on your blog information to her so she can reach out to you when she is ready. It has been a rough time for her and her family, and she is doing her best to climb out of the darkness and loss as well. My prayers and wishes go out to all of the families touched by this loss, that they find peace, understanding and healing.

        Ryan I am so proud of you for your honesty, grace and compassion in your writing to Heather today. You are angel. Love you, Laura

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        1. Laura, thanks you so much for this. I am sick to my stomach today, so painful to read these words and yet I so appreciate the grace you bestow here. Noah killed someone very special from a special family and that is at times more than I want to bear. I know all three victims were amazing people. Please hear me saying thank you for your big heart in this post.

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  34. Heather, my heart has been so heavy for you since I first heard the news. Have been praying for you, your family, and the victims. I too have a son who suffers from mental illness. I worry for him everyday. I have surrendered him to God but I keep wanting to take him back. As a mom, we love our children and want them to be happy and healthy, but sometimes they need more than our love. Just know you are loved and supported.

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  35. My dear Heather I am so very sorry to hear of this unspeakable tragedy. May God bless you and keep you in his care. Your writing has been such an inspiration and source of hope to me.

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  36. Heather, I have been praying for you and hurting for you ever since I heard about Noah. We don’t know each other directly, only through others we both care about, but I hope you know how deeply you are loved, even by indirect folks like me who admire your writing and your willingness to be real. I suspect knowing you are loved makes only a tiny dent in your pain, but I hope it helps. I’m praying for your peace–knowing full well that only a peace beyond understanding can make any sense at all. Blessings to you and your family.

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  37. Thank you for this difficult and beautiful message. There are those of us who have experienced similar but not the same family pain and tragedy, and somehow learned how to see God’s love and care through the dark.

    I applaud your sobriety, message and journey.

    Thank you for sharing it so courageously.

    David

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  38. Heather…. Jeff and I love you and Dave so much, and we have been praying for you. So much. You are in our thoughts a LOT. So, so sorry for what you have been through — and are still going through. Thank you for your honesty, and for sharing the pain you are in with those who love you. I hope the outpouring of love you are receiving is a small glimmer of God’s light and comfort amidst this bewildering darkness. Hugs to you and Dave, from both of us.

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  39. I am but a total stranger, not even in the same country as you. I have followed your blogs for a while. I just therefore want to offer you love and my deepest thoughts.

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  40. Living with my own heartbreak I can’t imagine yours. Praying God will hold us both during this time. Have greatly appreciated your writing. Praying you’ll heal enough to continue using your gift! Hugs!

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  41. Dear Heather!

    I’m feeling your pain and catching your tears! And, praying that you won’t turn your bitterness to God. But, rather, give it to Him. Praying that you will feel a peace, comfort, and understanding that only He can and will provide.

    Love,

    Ron

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  42. Heather, thank you for your bravery, courage, honesty and strength, even if you feel you have none or very little right now. Just being here and allowing us to share your pain, that’s true courage my friend. Please keep writing. You have been and will continue to be in my prayers. You are so loved.

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  43. Heather, I have been thinking of you since this all happened. I have missed you. Thank you for being brave and showing back up. Your courage and openness healed something in me. I was thinking that you must have felt so alone and that’s how it had to be for you. This is so damn hard. Thank you. I really love you.

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  44. There is a wonderful song I’ve heard lately called “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Grey. Though I am sure you feel that your light has dimmed through this tragedy, God’s light is shining brighter than ever through your faith and courage. The darker the night, the brighter the light. Noah is whole and well now. Thank you for reaching out to others who have felt the darkest nights and to those who love you and will pray for all involved.

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  45. I am so sorry for your loss and for all that you are going through. I know that God is with you and He will carry you and your hardest moments.

    I so appreciate your book and your post and have used them in my recovery and helping with others. If you are able to start reblogging or to even write another book I would be very much anxious to hear from you. I trust you know how much you are loved and appreciated thank you for all your wonderful work.

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  46. Heather I am so sorry. Words are inadequate at this moment. You have had an impact on my life through your book and your blog, and I am so thankful for you. I am praying for all of those impacted by this trajedy.

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    1. You will write again because you must. You touch so many with your transparency and openness. Your words, these words you write have Holy Spirit power. So when God gives the words, write them for every heart who is breaking over a loss of someone through any means. Write because words matter.

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  47. I am so very sorry – there are no words. I just want to let you know how much your book and posts inspired me and helped me in my path to sobriety and letting God into my life. You are in my prayers.

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  48. No, that was not the son you knew and loved. Mental illness can be so cruel. Thank you for sharing. A lot of people have your back. Love and prayers.

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  49. You are brave. You are loved.
    Tom and I pray for a blanket of peace over you and your family as you grieve. As impossible as it seems….there will be flowers on the other side of this hill.

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  50. Dearest Heather, I could not sleep and felt like the Lord wanted me to pray and I did. Later I got up, as I was wide awake. When I checked FB and came across your blog I knew it was you for whom I was praying. My heart is grieving for all concerned and I will continue praying.

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  51. Heather,

    I wanted you to know that what happened with Noah in no way diminishes what you have said or do. Your book was very inspirational to me and still is. I have a son with schizophrenia and it is such a tragedy. Bless you and your family and the family of the victims. Keep on talking about addiction. It can be so overwhelming. Thank you. Becky

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  52. Heather, my heart is so relieved to hear from you. Whenever I read about these horrendous tragedies that occur in our country, my mind first goes to the mother of the troubled soul who committed the unthinkable act. When I learned you had become one of those mothers, I wanted to find you and throw my arms around you. We moms who have raised difficult, sometimes tormented children… children who suffer from any number of mental health issues and addictions… live with the fear of what could happen. What happened to Noah, and to you as his mother, could have happened to so many of us. You have been on my mind countless times and in my sadness for you, and my outrage at God for allowing such a thing, all I can do is pray that a Power greater than ourselves can somehow reconcile all of this. I pray for you and your family, and for the families of the victims. May you all be given the peace which exceeds all understanding.

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  53. Oh my dear Heather….I don’t know you, but I know *of* you, and I have read here and there some of the things that you have written on your struggle with and healing from alcoholism. I so relate, since this was my struggle as well. I am unspeakably sorry for the loss of your precious boy and for the families who have suffered great loss as well. I think that there but for the grace of God go many of us. So little is truly understood about mental illness….about a malfunction in the brain. We have seen my brother suffer so long, feeling so very helpless to know what to do. We have grieved over ridicule he has received and the stigma that cloaks those like him who have these difficult disorders for which they are not responsible. Your boy Noah sounded like such a sweet, sensitive soul. This is the boy whom you loved and raised and who loved back. This is the boy who is with the Lord, whom one day you will see. I can’t imagine your grief now. I can’t fathom what you are going through. Oh sweet Heather, cast yourself upon the only One who does know. His suffering was great…..and it wasn’t just to save us, but He suffered in order to know the depths of your own suffering. He cares that much and He will lavish you with His love and with His comfort. May the Lord draw you oh so close, and may He sustain you when you don’t see how you can take another step. Lean on Him.
    I will be praying for you, Heather.
    Love
    Lynn
    PS I think what Becky Johnson said to you is so special, and a mutual friend of ours is author Carol Kent. Likely you know the story of her son about which she has written in several of her books. If you don’t know her, I think she would surely be willing to talk to you.

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  54. Oh Heather, there are truly no words. I just can’t imagine walking through this and there are no words to say that make anything better at all, but please know that our family is lifting you all, and the other families affected by this, up in prayer — that somehow the God of Love would continue to make Himself known to you all in ways unimaginable. Thank you for sharing about Noah and I loved the story of the quails. What a sweet soul. So glad he is safe in that never-ending, never giving up Love now.

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  55. I’m crushed just hearing this story, to be living it… I can’t even imagine. This broken old world can be so very cruel. I’ve deleted so many sentences at this point. The ones that go round and round with tears and ‘sorry’s and sadness. The ones with all the swears and anger about mental illness. Especially the ones with trite sayings and neat fix-its, even though I want so badly to have something wise and helpful to say. I don’t have the right words, not sure there are any, but sending love and prayers your way. Rest in peace Noah.

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  56. Heather, even though I haven’t reached out to you lately I think of you everyday. I am so grateful that Noah had you as a mother, who understands all of the complexities of what it means to be human and imperfect, yet with so such faith and regard for God’s Mercy. Thank you to you and Dave for being such a powerful example of Christ’s love in the world, working in and through the lives of friends and family, and your messages over the internet. We all love you both immensely, and send it your way, Rebecca.

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  57. Heather, I am so sad for you and so sorry for your loss. Bill and I have been praying for you and Dave and your family, as well as for the victims’ families. Thank you for breaking your silence, for the effort that must have cost. Thank you for the glimpse of Noah as you remember him. You’re right – he wasn’t there that day. And I suspect that making sense of things might only be possible in that eternal realm when every tear is wiped away. That’s my hope for my own story, anyway. Please do what you need to do and know that we will be thinking of you and and praying for you and hoping for future days when you have more to say about anything at all. We’ll be listening and welcoming your voice.

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  58. My heart breaks for you. I did not know, just never made the connection with your names. You have no apologies to make to anyone. Hold onto Jesus as He is holding on to you. You are loved.

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  59. Oh my gosh, Heather. I’m weeping for you and your family and everyone affected. I had no idea. I’ve missed you terribly and I’ve stopped by your page a couple of times, but I sensed I shouldn’t keep on and on. I’m praying hard that you find peace and that 2016 feels gentler. I am so, so, so sorry. I love you!

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  60. Heather, you can’t imagine how much you’ve been on my thoughts and mind and heart. I have had many mothers of adult children who struggle with addiction and mental issues praying for you! We all get it, we all know this could have been our son or daughter. We jump when the phone rings, often not knowing which “adult child” we will hear on the other end of the line, or if it will be the police, or the hospital. I’ve experienced all those calls, many times. I will never forget your kindness to me this past summer when my son, also bi-polar and alcoholic also began to use meth, overdosed (on purpose) and almost died.

    Your book and your kind words to me via email and fb message, touched me so deeply. The line in your book, about “bonding more over shared brokenness than over shared belief,” is profoundly true. YES. When I heard what you and your family were enduring… I reached for my heart, and grabbed at it A gesture , because there were no words

    I know how easily this could have been my son in one of his drug-induced psychotic breaks. And I know how precious and good and tenderhearted Noah, the REAL Noah must have been. I think those who self-medicate their imbalanced brains… are some of the most sensitive among us. Whatever happens, know you have a friend and sister in me, and a brother in my husband, Greg. Take all the time you need to heal. Thank you for sharing with us. You have been missed. We love you! And yes, I will also be praying for the innocent lives taken that day, for their families as well. How this must also weigh on you and Dave. A burden, however, only a Big God can carry. Sleep well tonight, wrapped in the love and prayers of your friends here. In His arms, Becky

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  61. I’m so very sorry. the pain of brokenness is far beyond measure in this world. thankful that the power of love is somehow greater. praying for the the hearts of all of you, that you might be held/carried/healed/revived far beyond what we can ask or imagine.

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  62. You were right to share this now, Heather. Because the replies will remind you of how loved you are. And how much your friends really do understand. And how much they are supporting you on this journey. You have been in our thoughts and prayers. And as I already said, our mysterious God knows what he’s doing. Someday we will get it. In the meantime all we have is faith…and fortunately some fellow travelers to dispense love and Kleenex along the way. Love you!

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  63. Heather…

    Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

    Lean on the word of our Lord. Don’t worry. Trust!

    When all of the world comes crashing in, just “lean” against it with your Lord and your God.

    I cannot imagine what you are experiencing….. But I do know that “All things work for good to those that love the Lord”.

    Buckle up, head down, eyes forward, Jesus is coming!

    Everything will be crystal clear soon.

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  64. My heart goes out to you, Heather, as well as to your family and the families affected by this devastating tragedy. May you find peace in this dark time.

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  65. My heart aches for you and am at a loss what to say. Saying sorry for your loss seems so inadequate… cannot imagine what you have gone through! Just know you will be in my thoughts. ♥♥♥♥♥ & HUGS Heather

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  66. Heather, In the most real sense, that clearly was not your son. I know this, because (I don’t know if I ever shared this with you or Dave), I also attempted murder several times while intoxicated and deep in my untreated bi-polar illness. The only difference between Noah and me was that I became the target of my own murder. Miraculously, now, I have clarity and am horrified at the actions I took while insanely ill. They didn’t reflect who I am at all. And, I tell you. THAT was not your beautiful son.

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  67. I just read what happned. Im so sorry. Your family has experinced alot in the past few years. That can be hard for anyone. We need to hang onto the ones we have left because we dont know when. I will keep your family in my prayers for strength dear. I love you.

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  68. Heather: What everyone else has said here. No words, just an aching heart for you and your husband. God bless you in ways that you really see and feel.

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  69. I am so, so sorry for what you’ve had to go through. Even when the night seems darker than dark, God’s light still shines through. Noah is safe in His arms. One day he’ll be in yours again. God bless you.

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  70. I am sorry, I didn’t know (I left you a message on Facebook a while back) … “I don’t know how to make sense of the world or God or life anymore”… I’m not sure I could ever write a more honest sentence in all my life. I will be praying for those families now and your family also… and of course you are in my prayers…

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  71. Oh, Heather. I cannot imagine your pain, but my heart is broken for you and your family and the families who have suffered this tragic loss. Praying that God gives you inexplicable strength for each moment.

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  72. my heart breaks for your mama heart. I too have a son with Noah type issues and YOU are so brave and amazing and I too believe Noah is closer to you now than ever. I cry for your loss and the loss of the other families but YOUR NOAH was not in his right mind Heather. Take the time you need to do whatever you need to do to try to get to the next place in your life. Your posts have meant so much to me in times of trouble…but now its times for you… May God guide your sweet heart to a place a peace. Another Mother

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  73. Heather, what unspeakable pain you must be feeling, and yet you reached out to your readers–your online friends. I’ve been praying, and will continue to so do. Please feel hugged, uplifted, and loved.

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  74. Heather, I am devastated to read this. Heartbroken for you, for your family, for all involved. I remember reading many blog posts where you’d chat about Noah. My heartfelt condolences and may God surround you with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

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  75. Heather; I have prayed and prayed and prayed for every single person touched by this awful thing. I don’t care how many technical glitches there are if it means your voice is regaining its volume. He wasn’t there that day. Your love and compassion are heroic. God bless us each and every one.

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