Saturday morning felt so crisp and clear. The hint of warmth in the air was an invitation to linger over small things.
Tucson in January is such a beautiful time of year. It is why we live here. It is our time to celebrate.
And now, it is our time to mourn.
Say a prayer for Gabrielle Giffords, fighting for her life today. Remember Chief Judge John Roll, a good man, now dead. Hold close to your heart the family of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, who had just been elected to her school's Student Council and attended Saturday's event to learn about government.
Mourn all the victims and their families.
There are no words to fill the space left behind here. No way to make sense of the senseless. Our toll is staggering: Six reported dead, 13 injured. One man with a gun, now in custody.
And for what?
While we don't know the motivations of the shooter, it's hard not to think of the political anger that has overwhelmed us. For months there were warning signs that something awful was simmering.
There were the raucous debates this election season where voters shouted down candidates, including Congresswoman Giffords. White powder was sent to Congressman Raúl Grijalva's congressional office in October. Back in March, after the health-care vote, the glass door at Giffords' congressional office was shattered. Those were just two of the highest-profile incidents in one of the most venomous campaign seasons in recent history.
This is not what Tucson is about, and yet here we are, the flash point for political tragedy.
"It's horrific. It's heartbreaking. It's very frightening," said Congressman Grijalva, his voice shaking. Grijalva expressed a deep lament about the hostility that's taken over our political discourse. It's a lament shared, at least in private conversations, by politicians from across the spectrum. It's unsettling. And now it's our heartbreak.
"Gabby's contributions were all in the future," Grijalva said. "Her career was all in the future."
Grijalva's words carry a sense of robbery, not only of Giffords' political career that might have been stolen away in one terrible moment, but the six lives we have lost. Among them a judge and a child.
"The feeling I got in my stomach was the same as when Bobby was shot when I was 9 years old," said Paul Eckerstrom, Pima County's former Democratic Party chair, referring to Robert F. Kennedy's assassination in 1968. "I had seen Bobby two weeks earlier when he came to Tucson. But this is even more personal, of course."
She has been a graceful Blue Dog with political grit. A Democrat in a Republican district but walking that tightrope beautifully, maintaining a centrist voice in a polarized world.
She made a point to listen and respond to the voters in District 8, and she earned their respect. That's why she was meeting with the voters, yet again, for "Congress on Your Corner" when she was shot at point-blank range.
That's why our military officers wept at a ceremony to swear in Tucson's newest military commander, held a few hours after the shooting.
"Congresswoman Giffords is a great American patriot who never did anything without thinking about all the soldiers and airmen in Southern Arizona," said Col. Michael McGuire who took over as leader of the Air National Guard 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson early Saturday afternoon.
Outside of Giffords' congressional office Saturday afternoon, supporters and mourners lit candles and laid down flowers. Vigils followed into the night.
As a community, we've torn ourselves apart politically. But in this terrible, awful grief, perhaps we can find the will and the strength to come together again.
Contact columnist Josh Brodesky at 573-4242 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Norma Coile and Carol Ann Alaimo contributed quotes to this column.