"We need and must start filming the
new chapter to this story. Some would say Iím making this stand
ten years too late. I would say itís never too late to find ways
to keep kids strong, alive and full of hope."
blood from the Columbine Massacre will never completely wash off
our hurting hearts. What must be done is taking action against
giving the murder and mayhem any kind of foothold in our psyche."
years. One hundred and twenty months. Three thousand six hundred and
fifty two days. It has been that long since April 20, 1999. The clock
would click over to 11:21am Mountain Standard Time and bring with it
the event that changed everything. The date and time cannot be said
without chills running down the full length of my spine with the force
of an unhinged sledgehammer. It is a unique event to have witnessed
and experienced. You could call the last ten years extended therapy.
When I graduated high school in 2001, I was looking forward. Getting
away. Making the world my own and breaking through on whatever stage
I could find. In those ensuing months I found myself involved with the
Lullaby for Columbine Project writing a monthly column entitled, "Teen
Talk". I was taking a message to the teen population of the day.
My first column talked about love and the desperate need for it within
the hallways of our schools.
It was in this column that I brought to bear the confession that I related
to Harris and Klebold. I opened up about the fact that suicide had indeed
been part of my plans. Just graduated from Littleton High School, I
wrote these words, "Three years of middle school were my years
of torture. I even considered suicide because of all the comments that
came my way. Why? Because I had nothing to live for."
As time went on I tried to write words that would reach out to someone.
I hoped that whatever drivel my hands tapped across the keyboard would
prove useful to someone out there in the world. My last column was one
of resignation to the fact that I was growing older and farther away
from the generation I was supposed to be speaking words of wisdom to.
My last paragraphs were spent pleading with those that read the words
to see the change in the world and move quickly to enable the transformation
needed before it was too late. I feared there would be more Columbine
I was mostly right. In the last ten years school attacks have increased.
Virginia Tech brought back many memories on April 16, 2007. I wonít
lie to you. It was a hard week or so as the news played across television
screens and blogs the worldwide. The feelings returned, the memories
bubbled up from my stomach as if threatening to send me running to the
bathroom. Here in the present there have been several incidents of people
being gunned down in a school and a church. Alabama was shocked with
a terrible shooting. The picture I paint is fairly bleak.
naively thought when I filed my final column with the LFC project five
years ago that I would get better at getting over Columbine. I expected
the emotions would fade with time as I distracted myself with the pursuit
of The American Dream. I donít think Iíve ever been so wrong in my life.
ten years dreams change. I once wanted to be a police officer. That
never came together. There was also this idea that I would be an English
teacher in high school so as to help steer future generations down the
path of goodness and light. File that under non-starter. I ended up
working through the call center world first as an agent then trainer
overseas and then back home to be a supervisor.
ten years you find your body changes on you. I had a stroke on April
9, 2008 which brought everything I knew about life to a complete halt.
Revaluating my future, I decided to seek something better and ended
up in middle management with a behemoth of a healthcare related industry.
all this I was still ignoring my emotions from Columbine. I had suppressed
them. Shut them away. Refused to think about it. If I did, I barely
touched the surface in blogs, keeping my emotions to turmoil ridden
the last ten years Iíve written, video blogged, spoken and even done
an online radio show about the subject. I donít think Iíve made the
progress I had hoped for and in some ways thatís a pleasant surprise.
Odd to say "pleasant" in an essay about Columbine.
Part of the human condition is that we all carry baggage. Emotional,
physical and even spiritual. It makes up who we are. It affects how
we interact and how we deal. Each of us has moments of pain that riddle
our hearts like the pockmarked moon. I used to think that having Columbine
in my experiences was a liability.
that would cripple my well-being and state of mind. Something that if
given the chance would haunt me until my last days like a ball and chain.
I secretly feared this for many years and up until the last few weeks
I was growing concerned about the roiling emotions due to burst from
something happened that changed everything. It wasnít a thrilling moment
where the camera slowly zoomed out to a soaring operatic score. It was
a simple reminder that my experiences in middle school and years later
Columbine were not in vain.
is what spurred me to being more active in church and youth. Iíll admit
Iíve faded in the last few years as the distance from those days grows.
This moment brought chastisement and guilt to my heart for losing that
spark. In our small groups in junior high church we were having a discussion
about God and how we use his name. In turn, the conversation steered
towards how we act towards those around us. The question was posed,
"Does that indeed show someone your faith and Godís love?"
answers were devastating. Stories of a more or less Emo/Goth/Whatever
girl who acted out and didnít really have friends. Everyone avoided
her like the plague, including those in the small group. Each student
shared their story of someone who was alone in different ways. I found
my heart aching for each story. I was that kid in middle school. The
one that was the constant target of just about everyone. And so alone.
even wrote a short story where I took my anger out on those that had
caused me the greatest pain. It was fairly violent. I distinctly remember
naming my main attacker. His name was Robert Orth. In my fictional world,
I took him to the edge of death. The writing didnít scare me. It thrilled
me. To this day when I relieve this terrible tale I feel such guilt
about thinking and writing those words.
far was I from doing something like Harris and Klebold? Itís an honest
question Iíve been trying to answer since Columbine. I still havenít
decided on an answer but I do know this: Iíve been carrying around the
grudge against Robert for far too long. Itís taken ten plus years, but
I think itís time.
I forgive you Robert Orth. I know kids do stupid things. Horrible things.
Sometimes weíre so blinded by the small microcosm of the world around
us that we donít see the simple way out of the cycle of crazy weíre
stuck on. It was odd at the time but years later I would find out you
had gone on to do good things in life and finding your way. I can only
hope and pray things are still all right with you and yours.
at my church with my small group I stood with all these images and thoughts
racing through my mind. How best to take the lessons of yesterday into
the world of today? It was hard, but I broached how I was like that
girl and that guy in middle school. I urged them to do what was right.
Saying hi. Taking a step to reach out. Doing something versus nothing.
I think the troubled kids in their school are apt to replay Harris and
Klebold? I donít know. I do know that suicide is a very real threat
to the youth of today. I do know theyíre facing struggles and internal
tug of war like no generation has seen previous. Iím not sure I could
even make a complete list of everything they face on just one page.
I do know there are hearts and mind in need.
years ago I wrote my first column with the message, "Donít leave
anyone behind; donít let them fall into the cracks. You have the power
to prevent another Columbine. Be a friend to someone. Be a listener
to someone. Be a hugger to someone. Be something to someone so they
know they are accepted." Perhaps I was naïve in thinking this
would solve all the troubles that Columbine exposed within that school
and hundreds nationwide. Iím still convinced that what I wrote is a
part of a larger patchwork solution.
last column closed with a last desperate plea to the readers. I will
make a similar pitch all these years later. Ten years later we need
to stop watching the tapes of Columbine. The events are not in question.
The actions of two heartless murderers cannot be refuted. The blood
from the Columbine Massacre will never completely wash off our hurting
hearts. What must be done is taking action against giving the murder
and mayhem any kind of foothold in our psyche. Celebrate the lives and
the journey each has taken in changing lives worldwide. Create or join
projects and groups to fight against the darkness that haunts our students.
need and must start filming the new chapter to this story. Some would
say Iím making this stand ten years too late. I would say itís never
too late to find ways to keep kids strong, alive and full of hope.
we wait, pause or otherwise step away, the ending of this tale will
be something none of us want to read. It is within each of our hands.
Please help me change the plot. We are the only one who can.
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