When Melissa Wall boards a plane to Las Vegas later this month, it will be to write the final chapter of her healing journey.
Wall, 36, of Ararat, was among those attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival last year in Las Vegas, Nevada when shots rang out, killing 59 and wounding more than 200 people.
Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., was later identified as the lone gunman who opened fire from two windows in his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
“I try not to think about it, but I think about it every day,” Wall said. “I absolutely relive it.”
A self described “huge Jason Aldean fan,” Wall said Aldean’s song “When She Says Baby” was playing when the shooting incident began. The opening lines, “Some days it’s tough just gettin’ up, throwin’ on these boots and makin’ that climb. Some days I’d rather be a no-show lay-low ‘fore I go outta my mind.
But when she says baby,” are enough to remind her of the shooting incident.
“It doesn’t matter where I am, I get cold chills when I hear that song,” Wall said. “I can be sweating in the gym and if that song comes on, I get cold chills. That song will forever hold a meaning for me that will stop me in my tracks,” she said.
Wall said even she did not realize how much she had healed until her aunt won a trip to Vegas in an iHeart radio contest and invited Wall as her guest.
“I realized how much I had healed just by saying ‘yes,’” Wall said, adding that even though the trip is for another venue, she wants to return to the site of the festival.
“I think I want to see it in a different light and feel like I’ve not been defeated,” Wall said. “I want to stand there and take it all in. I want to feel my emotions. I believe it’s important to feel your emotions, and I want my final emotion to be strength.”
Surviving the incident, and now coming out on the other end, Wall said she fully understands that “life is precious. You always think ‘I’m too young for this.’ You just don’t think, this could be your last moment, your last phone call or your last time singing out loud,” Wall said.
The return trip to Vegas also is part of overcoming her fear.
“I’m not going to let this worst case scenario tragedy define me and create fear in me,” she said
Her creed and advice to anyone who will heed it is simple, she said.
“Slow down, take life as it is. Do everything you do with kindness, and know you don’t wait to live for the future. Live right now” in the moment, she said. “That’s really what I strive for in my life and to instill in my kids.”
Her children, aged 6- and 8-years-old, admire her strength.
“They say, ‘you’re so strong, Mommy. I think you can be a ninja,’” Wall said.