Friday, June 6, 2014

A Letter to Aaron Ybarra

Dear Aaron,

    I thought about writing this letter to you all through last night. I thought over what I would say, how I would react.
Waking up this morning, it all seems so surreal. I thought about you all night. Every time I closed my eyes, you were there. Every time I looked at my phone, there you were- in the form of friends reaching out to try and figure out what has happened, in the form of news stories, in the form of "the gunman".    
     I keep thinking about watching the news, the horrific events unfolding right in front of us, in our own back yard. I kept thinking, how could this happen? How could this happen here, in Seattle? I never would have dreamed! I watched the news for hours trying to find any reason for this to have happened, worrying about my loved ones and friends in the area, telling people not to go home, leave work early.
     I talked at length about it, about YOU without even knowing you had done this. I had even SEEN your arrest photo. Thought to myself "That looks so much like Aaron, but it's not him." I felt badly that this monster so resembled you.  
    I took a break from the news; it had become too much. I watched some other television for a couple of hours, and then before bed, I checked Facebook.
    I'll never forget exactly how I felt in that moment; the moment I scrolled past your were the gunman. My heart dropped, I was immediately nauseous. My heart was pounding, I was shaking- felt like I was made from Jello. My vision went black. The only thing I could manage to say was "No."  

    I've played the scenario out in my head over and over. Trying to understand you, why you would want to do this. How you could bring yourself to do this. Premeditate this. What were you thinking? What were you feeling? Did you feel anything? I have so many questions, and I will probably never have the answers. How could you have hid this so well, and from so many? Jessica and Stephanie were just out with you, not a week ago. No one saw this coming, no one suspected a thing. 

    I keep thinking back to our time together. I think of when you would visit me at the mall, nearly every day. You would show up, Starbucks in hand, big smile on your face. I was always so relieved when you came to visit, a friendly and familiar face. We would talk about the weekend, beer, fishing, horror movies, directors, our opinions on current events. I remember you telling me about your script, the premise. I remember that so well, how happy you were to share your thoughts and ideas with a kindred spirit...I think of these moments, and I find myself trying to analyze them. Were there any clues? Anything suspicious? I don't know how many times I have scrutinized those memories in the past 10 or so hours. Replaying them over and over, remembering them so clearly. I can't find a single detail, not one thing to point to this, or anything like this. Not even a misspoken fantasy, not a single inkling. 

      I keep wishing that you'd reached out to someone, anyone. I wish you would have taken all of this pent up aggression, loneliness, depression- whatever it was that drove you to this, and I wish you'd applied it to ANYTHING else. Your script, motivation to make your film a reality, pool, fishing, anything.  

    I fear the media scrutiny. I fear seeing your face on the news, with this abhorrent act connected to you, because of you. I fear watching the media and the talking heads dissecting every aspect of your life, your hobbies, jobs, trying to find SOME kind of link. 
     I have been reading the comments on the news stories, and they are heart breaking.  The things that people are saying about you, wishing upon you. No one wants to hear about you, your story, why you did this. People are assuming you're just some psychopath with no regard to human life.  

     But I KNOW you, Aaron. With every comment, my heart breaks more. I can't express enough how conflicted I feel, how everyone who knows you feels...I can not reconcile who you are with what you did. You're not a psychopath, you're not this fucking monster. But you DID this. YOU DID THIS.  

     I never thought this could happen...that this WOULD happen. That I would know someone who could commit such an atrocious act. The same cliche keeps showing up, over and over: "He was such a nice guy", "Such a sweet guy", "Never saw this coming", "He was not the type"...How could so many of us have been SO incredibly wrong??   

     I can't stand to think about you entering that building, opening fire on all of those innocent people. Reloading, planning to kill more. I can't stand to think of you being pepper-sprayed, being taken down, pinned, arrested. I feel like ouroboros chewing on my tail, never getting anywhere.   

      I am utterly sickened by this. I am disturbed, distraught. Saddened. Hurt.On this side of the fence, you realize that there is an entirely different group of people reaching for answers, mourning. Trying to understand. I can't even say that I'm mad at you for this...though I should be. I suppose this is denial. Stages of grief...I've spent the entire morning crying, confused.I keep thinking to myself, and seeing it reflected in the statements of others, "If only I had known". If only you'd told someone, given any kind of hint...maybe this could have been prevented. Lives could have been saved, trauma spared, you could have gotten help. Is this true? Or a coping mechanism? I guess we'll never know for sure whether or not this could have been prevented, and it doesn't do well to dwell on the "what if's".    

     I read in the news that you had planned to die on Thursday, at the campus. I am glad you were taken down, apprehended, kept alive; because I HOPE that you will be nothing but cooperative, that out of this tragedy we may find some answers, some kind of insight as to what drives this, what could cause someone to do this. What was the thought process, the driving factor? Maybe we can use this experience to grow, to learn, to stop this from happening again. 

      I am writing this to you on the morning of June 6, 2014. Still in the wake of what has happened, and maybe it's because I remember you so fondly, because we were such good friends; but the only thing I can think to say is I'm sorry. I'm sorry I wasn't around more often. I'm sorry I didn't always answer your messages. I'm sorry that I never saw this part of you, that I was never concerned for the safety of your life and how it would affect others. I'm sorry that you decided this was a viable option. I'm sorry that you wanted to die this way, and that you brought innocent people down with you. But most of all, I am sorry for not reaching out, for not trying harder, for not seeing this incredible sadness inside of you. I'm sorry that I have to remember you this way. And I am sorry for the loss of Aaron Ybarra.

-Adrianna Angel
June 6, 2014
09:26 A.M.


  1. I'm sorry for your friend. I'm a resident of North Seattle, and I just wanted to say that while obviously there is a lot of pain for the victims of this shooting, Aaron is just as much a victim, when people harm others, they harm themselves, and no one lives inside a vacuum. We're all connected to one another. I pray for the victims and their families, but also for this young man and his family and friends. Strength to you through these difficult times, thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and to comment. I am glad that you've taken something away from this letter, and thankful for your compassion. You're right when you say Aaron is just as much a victim in this situation, and I feel as though that is something that many fail to recognize. I hope that Aaron is able to get the help that he needs, and hopefully we can take this experience and use it to learn from him, and possibly begin to understand the reason why things like this happen so that we can stop them from happening again.

  2. Thank you Adrianna for writing this. I was his coworker and wept bitterly reading this, it is so true. Though I may not have known him well, I feel a sense of compassion and love towards him. I keep asking, "why didn't you just come to work? Why didn't I see? Why didn't I..." So on and so forth. I do hope people see that he was the most awesome individual before all this went down; I pray that people would not just say "our hearts and prayers go out to the the family" but include him in their prayers and pray not for vengeance upon him, but that there may yet be a little hope a morsel of redeeming quality or even divine love in his life. I pray God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness in his life, and I hope to make a more assertive effort to be a friend even if he is behind bars.

    1. Thank you for reading, and for your reply. I can not express enough how much it means when people like you step forward with compassion, rather than vengeance, or hatred. Hate begets hate, and we need to stop this cycle. I truly hope that Aaron is given the chance to receive help, and not just thrown to the wolves; for if that's what happens to him, we may be losing a great opportunity to learn.