One Year Later: Cathy Wells "hasn't begun to grieve"
The last year has been a painful year of firsts for Cathy Wells. Every holiday and special event has been her first without her son, Lance Corporal Skip Wells.
The last year has been a painful year of firsts for Cathy Wells.
Every holiday and special event has been her first without her son Lance Corporal Skip Wells.
Saturday is the anniversary of the July 16th shootings in Chattanooga, and for Cathy Wells, it's another heartbreaking reminder of her family, and the nation's, loss.
On July 16th, 2015 the nation lost five brave service men, killed in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga.
Cathy Wells lost more. She lost her only child.
"As a mother, all you want to do is protect him, I couldn't that day, I couldn't protect him," Cathy said.
After the tragedy, the community came together as Chattanooga strong, to honor the lives lost and to heal.
Together, the city raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National Compassion Fund.
"Chattanooga has been the best city. I mean they have supported all of us so much and so well," said Cathy.
While Cathy is grateful, she realizes her own healing has not yet begun.
"Mother's Day was especially hard, I had asked everyone to leave me alone because, you know, I'm not a mom anymore. I mean I'll always be his mom but I'll never hear him call me that again," she said,
"That was a difficult day, which tells me I have not begun to grieve if that day was so hard. Because there's so many things that run through my mind, you know I'm never going to see his smile again, I'm never going to get a hug again."
The week before the shootings, Skip and Cathy kept with tradition and went to Disney World. The two had gone every year since Skip was three.
Skip, the youngest of the Chattanooga shootings victims, was just 21 years old when he died.
"I wasn't done," Cathy said, "I wasn't done. I had more plans."
Like every mother, Cathy's life revolved around her son. And it still does.
Skip is the reason behind her tattoos, her memorial foundation, and her Sunday mornings spent at the Georgia National Cemetery.
Cathy hopes time will help her heal, but she admits one year after the shootings she still has a long road ahead.
"It's a face. What happens when I go home and I'm in my room by myself, that part nobody sees," Cathy said, "But when I'm out, I put on the face."
Cathy plans to spend July 16th in Chattanooga, participating in some of the city's planned memorials, and re-visiting the place where her son died.
"I would like very much to just sit on the base, that's the last place he was, that's the last time he was here, and I rather just sit there by myself with him," she said.
Cathy Wells said she has been receiving a lot of emotional support and therapy through Operation Song, right here in Chattanooga.
Her song about Skip and the terrorist attack debuts on Friday as part of a special Nightfall concert.
Count on Channel 3 to be there for the special tribute.