Tom Sullivan's son Alex died in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, ten years ago this week. When he wants to feel close to his son again, Sullivan goes to the movies — at the same theater where his son died.
Alex Sullivan, 27, was among the 12 people killed when a gunman opened fire during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century 16 Theater. More than 70 people were injured in the attack.
I know Alex is there with me. I have difficulty going to the cemetery — I don't know if he's listening when I talk to him there — but the movies is something I know we're doing together.
The family — Tom, his wife of of 44 years Terry, and their 36-year-old daughter — always celebrated Alex's birthday with dinner and a movie.
Ten years later, Tom still watches movies at the theater — including the location where Alex died — because that's where he feels closest to his son.
"You can imagine the movies we watched together: "Ghostbusters," "Caddy Shack, anything with superheroes," said Tom.
Going to the movies brings Alex's memory alive for his dad.
"It's comfortable and I know Alex is there with me," said Tom. "I have difficulty going to the cemetery — I don't know if he's listening when I talk to him there — but the movies is something I know we're doing together."
Tom always reserved Row 12, Seat 12, which was Alex's seat, even after the theater was remodeled in 2013, re-opening that January with a "Hobbit" screening and a survivor ceremony.
For Tom, "Stepping into the theater was good. We walked around and there were people who were there that night with Alex and they heard our story," he explained.
Today, the Century 16 Theater seats have been upgraded and Alex's exact seat is not there, although Tom tries to snag a chair as close as possible to its original location. "I sit in the middle of the theater," he said.
As long as the big projector is rolling, Tom can feel Alex's energy.
"I know he's around — at home in the backyard" he said. "I'm the lucky one who gets to dream and he visits me there from time to time ... he (comes) through as a little boy."