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Las Vegas Survivor Discusses Life After Shooting

People hold up candles at a memorial service for Charleston Hartfield, a Las Vegas police officer who was killed when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival, in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.
People hold up candles at a memorial service for Charleston Hartfield, a Las Vegas police officer who was killed when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival, in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.

It has been nearly three weeks since the Las Vegas massacre and another victim has been laid to rest. On Friday, families and friends attended the funeral of 34-year-old Las Vegas Metro police officer Charleston Hartfield. He was killed while trying to save fellow country music fans attending the Route 91 Harvest festival when an onslaught of bullets rained down from a hotel. Fifty-eight people died. Hundreds more were injured.

This past Thursday, scores of people turned out for the symbolic "Vegas Strong" benefit concert to honor first responders and help provide solace to the thousands who walked away from the shooting physically unharmed — but not unscathed.

Misty Jones of Simi Valley, Calif. is one of those survivors.

Jones was at the route 91 concert on Oct.1. She did not attend Thursday night's benefit concert — but has been chronicling on Facebook her thoughts, fears, and baby steps back into daily life since the shooting — including whether to return to Vegas for closure.

Jones tells NPR's Lakshmi Singh how her Facebook posts have been helping her go through the healing process.

Interview Highlights

On the shoes that defined that fateful night in Vegas

Those shoes are the shoes that I ran for my life in. I pulled them out of the closet yesterday for the first time. In the post, I just talk about how I wore those shoes and they carried me through a run, the most important run of my life, for my life. And seeing them put me right back there. And it's hard to explain but it's just another trigger that takes you back to the day, the night...

You know, sitting in our hotel room later on and my husband trying to get me to take off my right shoe and I refused out of fear that I'd have to run again. And I sat on my bedroom floor with with those shoes in between my legs for a half an hour yesterday, just crying and remembering everything, remembering the sights and sounds, the smells.

These are the things, the moments that take me right back to Vegas and EVERYTHING that will forever be ingrained in my memory. #survivor #countrystrong

On how a regular day can trigger a flashback to the shooting

There was a jack-hammer across the street from my house and I didn't know it was there. And I was sitting in my bedroom and the sound of a jack-hammer sounds so similar to those shots we heard that night. And it wasn't until that day I went to Joanne's too, and the air conditioning kicked on, on the roof, and it's one of those old ones so the metal rattles. So you look up in fear and your head ducks... It's hearing all those sounds that take you back there.

And people that haven't been through it take those sounds for granted. They're normal to them and it's not normal to us anymore.

On trying to heal

[Methods for healing are] really about what heals your own soul and that's different for so many people. And mine has been my writing. My writing; what you've seen on Facebook. And I made those public so people can see them because I want people to hear the other side of the story. But then there's my husband who's getting back to his old normal self.

So it's different for everybody. But mine has definitely been writing and for once in my life learning to put myself first and listening to my body and listen[ing] to what I need. If I need a minute, it's okay to tell my husband or tell my boss or tell my children: "Mom needs five minutes."

Big day today with some big post Route 91 firsts[...] I think I did okay... slower than my normal pace for sure[...] I promise Mama will be back in full swing soon.

On whether she'll return to Las Vegas

I thought I wanted to go back before they took the venues down. I wanted to see the gates that we came to, that we either had to take down or were closed... or we stood [in front of] for a second, wondering if we pushed it open, [if] there were two more gunmen on the other side just waiting to pick us off.

But I got a picture of where we were sitting and the first gate that my husband broke down when we started running. And I thought maybe I'm not as ready as I thought I was. But I think I'll go back. I mean, we've committed to go to Route 91 next year. If nothing else, we're gonna buy our tickets to prove that we are #CountryStrong and this guy isn't gonna take us down.

And even if we don't go, we have our tickets but I don't know if I want to go back to the Mandalay Bay. I don't know that I ever want to go back to the Strip. And if I do, I need to give myself time to do it.

NPR's Digital News intern Jose Olivares produced this story for digital.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.