Healing from the Tucson shooting a year later

The people of Tucson this weekend are marking the first anniversary of the shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords is making a remarkable recovery from her head wounds. At her office Friday night, she helped unveil a plaque dedicated to her staffer Gabe Zimmerman, who died in the attack.

Still, it has been a long year for the people involved in that tragic day. CBS News Ben Tracy introduces us to one of them.

Suzi Hileman has every reason not to be in this classroom, not to once again bond with children.

On Jan. 8, Hileman took her neighbor's daughter -- nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green -- to meet their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. Shortly after they arrived at a Tucson grocery store, the shots started.

Complete coverage: Tragedy in Tucson

CBS News first talked to Hileman last year just after she got out of the hospital. She was shot three times. Her pain was still raw.

"I remember lying on the ground," she said at the time, "holding Christina's hand and looking at her and telling her to stay with me. 'And sweetie, I love you, and stay here, Christina, Christina.'" She buried her hands in her face, feeling extremely emotional.

Christina died, but her memory lives on: in a walk held in Tucson in her honor; in the playground Christina's parents had built nearby; and in her corneas donated so two other children can now see.

"When we heard that, we absolutely knew it was the best decision in the world, and I know Christina would have been proud to help somebody," said John Green, Christina's father.

Yet after losing her young friend, Suzi Hileman needed help too.

"One of the things that made me saddest in the hospital was the fear that my friends with children would think that I was toxic," she said, "and that they would be afraid to let their kids be with me."

Then last February, a local school asked her to judge a contest in which kids take pictures expressing their hopes for America.

Suzi quickly learned she was far from toxic. She's been coming back to that same Tucson school nearly every week, boosting her spirits and giving back.

"Christina's gone," she told Tracy in a classroom, "but all of these wonderful little faces are right here for me, and it reminds me that there's joy and love in the world [and] that life goes on."

On Sunday morning, bells will ring all over Tucson at 10:11, marking the exact moment the shooting began. Congresswoman Giffords will to attend a candlelight vigil that evening.

  • Ben Tracy

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