The Main Stream

Jan 4, 2012 1:00 AM

Triumph Over Tragedy - Two survivors share their stories

TUCSON - Two survivors, standing only inches apart when the Tucson massacre hit, have spent the weeks and months since January measuring that sad event's impact on their lives.

One, a retired executive who shielded his spouse from the gunfire, but took a bullet himself; the other, now a widow, who lost her mate that day. Her wounds have healed, but her heart is slowly mending.

News 4 Tucson's Tom McNamara met them both, and shares their stories:

Angels of hope adorn Mauvy Stoddard's Christmas tree - dozens of them, sent by people she doesn't even know.

But her true angel hangs on the walls of her home: Dory Stoddard, the man who loved her - the man who saved her life.

"Oh, I don't cry nearly as much as I used to," Mauvy says. "Sometimes in the morning, I talk to his pictures, he doesn't answer me, but I talk to him, anyway."

Dory Stoddard: husband, hero, and now in heaven, says Mauvy - a saint to the hundreds of people who've contacted her since.

"He would be shocked that so many people know of him," she says. "I want to be like him, the junior high kids said. And the little junior high girls especially would say 'I want a guy like that.'"

Mauvy herself was shot that day, three times in the leg. Doctors helped heal those wounds, but Mauvy's still working on the emotional healing, "and I think I'm through the worst part of it," she says. "People keep telling me I'm rushing it, well at my age, how much more time do I have? Maybe a long time, maybe not. I want to get through this and be happy and joyful again."

Part of the healing help comes from fellow survivors. In particular, Ken Dorushka. He was shot once in the arm as he flung himself, and his wife, to the ground that day, landing right next to the Stoddards.

"When I retired, this was not on my bucket list of things to have happen to you," Ken says. "I could have gone the rest of my life without ever being shot."

Ken says his wife was greatly traumatized by the event He's still having surgeries to repair his arm wound. But he says what happened has made them stronger, and more giving.

"You stop and wonder, why, why me, Lord. [Like the] Kris Kristofferson song that I love, dearly. What did I ever do to deserve you. But, and then, five months later, our third grandchild was born and gave us renewed meaning, renewed commitment, renewed reason for being," Ken says. "It's probably a cliche, but every day is more precious now than it was before. You don't take any day for granted.

On that now-and-forever-tainted day of January 8, Ken says he's spending this day at church, and at ceremonies, supporting fellow survivors and commemorating the lives of those we lost.

"They've become friends, truly, and we care a lot about all of them," he says. "It's going to be a somber day, that's for sure. It's painful. Every day I say a prayer for each one of the six that aren't with us. It's hard for me to understand and comprehend.

Mauvy says it was tough enough getting through the first holidays without Dory, but her toughest day may be January 8, which she'll spend with her four daughters and their families, "with everybody around the table but him," she says. "And when the 10 of us are together, nine of us now, and usually the guy are on one side of the room and the girls on the other, and I don't hear his voice or his laugh, that's hard."

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