The mother of Cooper Roberts, the boy paralyzed in the Highland Park parade shooting, detailed in a holiday update the “cyclone of emotions” that her family has gone through following the shooting.
Keely Roberts said in a lengthy holiday season update this month that her son Cooper was a typical, happy 8-year-old boy who played sports, wrestled with his twin brother, loved dancing to music and looked forward to starting third grade.
Cooper and his family’s lives were changed forever following the July 4, 2022, mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade.
Cooper suffered critical injuries after being shot in front of his family. His brother Luke and his mother were also wounded.
The gunshot wound left Cooper’s spinal cord severed, which led to him being paralyzed and requiring the use of a wheelchair.
The boy underwent months of treatment in the hospital and rehabilitation. He remains in a wheelchair.
“As I sit here, searching for all the right words that just aren’t coming to describe the past few months with our family in the “new normal,” I feel that familiar burning in my eyes as I fight back tears,” Keely Roberts said.
“The tears come from this internal cyclone of emotions that lives every day in my heart and soul; the constant swirling and mixing of grief and gratitude, loss and love, fear and fight, sadness and joy; the desire to curl up and cry and the need to do everything in my power to save my family, save myself from drowning in hurt; to scratch and claw to reclaim any precious moment of peace and happiness and familiarity I can find,” she said.
Roberts said “every day is a battle” despite living through the mass shooting.
“I am unfathomably grateful for that outcome that many people don’t get. But the residual “shrapnel” of our lives – the broken pieces we will be fixing forever, the severed spine of my 8-year-old, the massive trauma for his twin – cut far deeper than I ever thought,” Roberts said in the update.
Cooper’s mother said she suffers pain and heartache at random moments, such as when she drives by and sees kids playing an activity that her boys no longer can.
“Survivorship is lonely and isolating. Yet, I know we are not alone in this struggle,” Roberts said, adding that she is “eternally grateful” for the community’s support.
Roberts said she used to love the “magical weeks” of the winter holiday season. “It always felt like the world was just a little lighter, everyone a little happier, there was a glow.”
“I still feel that way some days. There are times when I feel “normal” again, when I can feel that holiday happiness and excitement. I say with more than a little shame, though, that there are also days that I don’t,” she said.