‘I wanted so much to hold him, to tell him that I love him.’
Amanda will never forget what she was doing at 4:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011.
Gabe, her best friend and boss, had just given her the following day off from work.
“I was delighted to not have to work on a Saturday,” she explained. “So I said, ‘Wow this must be my lucky day.’ And he said, ‘Yes it is.’“
The following morning, Amanda got a phone call.
She learned there’d been a shooting at the event Gabe had been working — the same work event she’d been given off.
Amanda did what many best friends would have done…
…and tragically arrived at her worst nightmare.
Beyond the yellow tape, she could see Gabe’s body lying on the pavement covered in a white butcher’s cloth from the nearby supermarket, which someone had placed on him.
“I wanted so much to hold him, to tell him that I love him, that he means the world to me,” she recalls in a video for Upworthy. “And I couldn’t.”
That was the day Amanda lost Gabe. Most of the world, however, remembers it as the day Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona.
Gabe, a staffer for Giffords, was one of the six people murdered in the parking lot of a local grocery store at the “Congress on Your Corner” event on Jan. 8, 2011. Giffords was one of 13 others injured by gunfire.
Mentions of Gabe’s death and the others who died that day were repeated time and time again, as media outlets covered the tragedy in-depth for months. But most of the nearly 12,000 murders from guns each year across America get far less attention.
As the rest of the country read headlines surrounding the tragedy near Tucson, Amanda focused on moving forward with her life.
She decided to visit the place where Gabe had been shot to make peace with his death. There, standing amongst the flowers, heartfelt notes, and teddy bears honoring those who lost their lives, Amanda saw an inspiring message from a very unlikely source.
“My head was immediately drawn down between my cowboy boots, where I saw this tiny, rectangular piece of paper,” she says. “And I picked it up and it was a fortune from a fortune cookie. And it said, ‘You are often unaware of the effect you have on others.'”
To Amanda, it felt like a sign — like Gabe was sending her an important message she should know:
“It felt like a communication with Gabe, that I took to mean, ‘Amanda, I had no idea I impacted so many people and I was so loved. And Amanda, you have no idea how you impact and affect people, and how loved you are.’ … All of us are often unaware of the affect we have on others, and it shouldn’t take tragedy for us to let one another know that … to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘I love you.'”
It’s a powerful reminder for any of us, wherever we are in our lives, regardless of what we’re dealing with: No matter who you are, you have an impact, you are loved, and the world is a better place because you are in it.
Watch Amanda tell her story in this Upworthy Original video: