Funeral services for Aaron Sullivan took place on August 1 at Madrona’s St. Therese Parish. Aaron was remembered by hundreds as a son, brother, grandson, protector, and friend. Aaron’s priest remembered him best when he attended St. Therese School – it was recounted that Aaron was bright and charming and he thought he knew everything.
I was asked to participate in Aaron’s Community Vigil and Remembrance on July 29 at the Rainier Community Center. Those who attended the vigil heard words of encouragement for Aaron’s large, loving family and many friends. I shared that it is my hope that our community sees this tragedy for what it is – the struggle between the influences of evil and the preserving of life.
As I reflect on that evening, the greatest tragedy is that Aaron was deprived of an opportunity to fully live out his life. Aaron’s unforeseen passing forces us to wrestle with the powers of evil and good as they exist in our community and within our hearts. It is my hope that his loss will not be a waste and his death will ignite a change in Seattle.
Since that fateful night in Leschi, it has become increasingly clear that this shooting incident is Seattle’s wake up call. Over the last three weeks, I have received many emails from parents, current and former public officials, and youth who have expressed frustration that Aaron died as a result of gun violence. His friends have shed tears and now want to do something to remember their fallen friend. Some have considered getting tattoos, while others are willing to serve on community youth advisory councils and work to see that this tragedy is not repeated.
As I listened and began to understand the journey of Aaron’s mother, father, sister and grandmother, I learned that one of life’s greatest challenge — and greatest reward — is for families, friends, and community to empower and educate our youth to become socially responsible and make good decisions.
Aaron’s passing has spurred us on to lay that groundwork for change. And in spite of society’s confusing messages (the kind of messages that force our youth to grow up before they should), our community must work together to help our youth build good values, make good judgments, and learn good decision-making skills.
If there is anything that we can do to remember our fallen friend, it is to empower and encourage our youth so a tragedy like this cannot, and will not, happen again.