Gilroy, stay strong

Gilroy is where my home and businesses are located.
My family and lifelong friends also have their families, lives, homes and businesses in the Garlic Capital of the World.
We are a close-knit community. My family and I volunteer at the Garlic Festival to help raise money for at-risk youth, scholarships and various foundations.
Imagine, as my wife and I did, that the three-day Garlic Festival was suppose to be a safe place where we could roam freely trying everything and anything garlic with our family, friends and strangers.
“Did you try the tri-tip?”
“What the heck happened to the stuffed mushrooms?”
“Dude, go get some calamari. It is delicious!”
“Honey, let’s go order the garlic fries.”
“Babe let’s go to the adult bar area and have IPA and wine!”
“Mijo, quiere ir al jump house?”
“Vamos a comer esa pupusa. Es rica!”
“Babe, I am tired, but let’s go to the stage to listen to some jams.”
“I am so HOT and sweaty. Let’s find shade.”
“Babe, I LOVE you, awesome day.”
Smiles all around.
This day afforded us relaxation to de-stress from the hectic work week. This three-day weekend was cool, then warmer, turning to hot weather.
We wore shorts, T-shirts, ate until we could not eat no more and ate again because someone recommended the garlic fries, calamari, bread or pupusa. Our bellies were full and bursting at the waistline and then more full because garlic food is comforting and part of our DNA. We just have to eat more!
Our thirst for water and/or alcoholic beverages made us the fools, but generally, courteous fools due to the police presence. We drank and had another and then another, but stayed honest even though we were a little drunk.
While this family, food, fun-filled garlic day was happening without a hitch……gunfire sprayed over innocent families, children, people, souls.
We are shocked, dismayed in disbelief that a former student from our kids’ high school resorted to the most extreme violence against another human being, took lives, physically injured others, while at the same time destroyed hundreds of healthy lives by placing undue fear and anxiety on a person’s soul.
Many unknown names are unsung heroes who helped another soul by holding their hand, picked up a child while running, grabbed a friend and pulled them to safety, turned over a table or barrier to protect others, drove strangers to their auto or to seek medical attention, worked triage, placed bandages, ran to safety in teams, hugged one another, and shared information via social media and other means.
Happy that our Gilroy Police Department took immediate action with precision and accuracy to eliminate the threat in such a short time frame. Happy that our firefighters and volunteers delivered immediate care for the wounded.
We will never heal from the mass shooting. We will overcome and learn to live with the pain going forward. This type of pain is invisible and lives rent free within our hearts and souls and certainly manifests itself in a river of tears that flows in our community.
Our lives continue forward as we reflect on what happened and try to make sense of this evil.
May the lives of those taken with such horrible act rest in peace and may families, friends and community navigate the river of tears that has flooded Gilroy toward a brighter, bigger smiling heart so everyone may enjoy a glimpse of hope for brighter days.
We are on a journey of self-reflection and understanding, and Gilroy Stronger remains in effect.
Arnold Flores

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