Remembering Kirsten Hinckley: 'You can be happy and still have that pain'
Sometimes people ask Scott Hinckley what the pale pink bracelet on his left wrist symbolizes.
"They don't usually like the outcome of the story," he said.
But he's not afraid to talk about his sister, 15-year-old Kirsten Hinckley, who died in a card store at Trolley Square, a victim of a Bosnian refugee's random shooting spree. His mother, Carolyn Tuft, was crouching next to Kirsten when Sulejman Talovic first shot them. The teenager returned a few minutes later to fire again. Tuft could feel the muzzle of a gun on her back. Her daughter died in front of her.
"It's become part of us," Scott Hinckley said. "It affects everything we do now."
The hot pink bracelet, decorated with an angel in Kirsten's memory, has faded to flesh tone. Hinckley moved to Los Angeles in 2009 to pursue filmmaking, a successful career that has included work on "127 Hours." Their dad, divorced from his mom before the shootings, remarried the same year. Last year, a bouquet sat unclaimed at his sister Kait's wedding next to a picture of her smiling with Kirsten. A sign read, "maid of honor."
A piece of music or a flavor of ice cream can lead to tears as the family remembers the good times.
"We've had enough time to heal, as much as we ever will," Scott Hinckley said. In their grief, "We've definitely all peaked."
Kirsten's mother, Tuft, was left with lead in her body. She works at a floral design store, carrying boxes of flowers and vases of water, which would be more enjoyable if it didn't hurt, her son said.
"Usually in the arc of life, she takes care of me and I take care of her later on," said Scott Hinckley, who sometimes helps his mother out financially. "But that came early."
His father, Steven Hinckley, spent almost every Sunday afternoon for about three years sitting by Kirsten's grave. She is his first and last thought every day.
"You have to remember you can be happy and still have that pain," Steven Hinckley said. "There were 15 years of fantastic memories."
The father can't go into a card store yet, but says he probably owes thousands of thank you notes to the people who helped his family after the shooting.
Steven Hinckley doesn't sleep well this time of year, and stays up tinkering on his 1965 Dart, the car he had once planned to buy for Kirsten and fix up with her.
He'll drive the silver classic in the 2012 Hot Rod Power Tour, which will arrive at its final stop in Texas on what would have been Kirsten's 21st birthday. He wishes she could have gone with him.
"That would have been such a trip," he said.