Written by Alan Gionet DENVER (CBS4) – A year later, tears still roll easily down the face of mother Theresa Hoover. The emotion of losing a son – so loved – so suddenly is a crushing burden.

“I’m thankful that I had him for 18 years, but I feel cheated and that’s something that I’ll get over in time. I’ll learn to deal with it a little bit better,” said Theresa.

“Not this week,” said her brother Dave Hoover.

“No, not this week,” replied Theresa.

She’s been impressed by condolences from around the world and buoyed by them. It’s helped her realize the world is not a terrible place.

“I think it does just because it makes me feel like I’m not in it alone. I mean I know I’m not, I have my family but to some extent I do feel like I’m on this roller coaster by myself,” said Theresa.

AJ Boik (credit: CBS)

AJ Boik (credit: CBS)

It’s not hearing him, not being able to hug him. I think that’s what I struggle with most.”

AJ Boik was polite and mischievous, artistic and athletic, popular and family loving.

His uncle remembers sending AJ off on a camping trip the weekend before he died with his cousin and a group of girls.

“As he’s walking away I said, ‘Hey AJ take care of those girls, watch out for them’ and he turns around… gives me a big hug, ‘Don’t worry I’ll take care of them uncle Dave, I love you.’ He gave me a big old hug. That’s the kind of kid he was.”
The family has advocated changes in gun laws and that has meant some criticism and some pessimism.

“I think I’m more frustrated,” said Theresa. “I don’t want to be discouraged but it’s hard not to be at the same time you know… You know none of it makes sense. Then you throw in the whole gun legislation thing. And it kind of pushes my faith a lot.”

Dave Hoover said AJ had a lot of friends because he understood other points of view, which has frustrated him in the gun debate.

“You know this world is about compromise, and it seems like there’s a lot less compromise going on in this world than there should be.”

AJ was shot that night while with his young fiancé – who survived. She was too shaken for an interview Thursday.

AJ’s mother remains close with the girl who would have been her daughter in-law. The two would have waited through college to get married.

AJ, who had just finished high school at Gateway High in Aurora, was headed to Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, but never made it.

The family wasn’t planning to attend the memorial in Aurora Saturday. They’re trying to find their own way through the first anniversary of the shooting.

“I made it through last year and that was the worst day. So I can make it through this year,” said Theresa.

“My life to some extent ended the day he died and I need to try to figure out who I am without him.”
Theresa’s older son Wil is also faced with getting over it.

She and Dave are still working and taking breaks to do things like talk to reporters.

There are only the memories frozen in time, now faded by a year. But there are wonderful memories of a young man who they’re convinced was not done making the world a better place.

“That’s what makes the world such a wonderful place is the people who live in it, not the things that we have, not the houses we have not how much money we have… about the relationships that really make happiness,” said Dave Hoover.

“There’s nothing anyone can say,” added Theresa, “It’s just pray. Pray this doesn’t happen again.”

– Written by Alan Gionet for CBSDenver.com


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