You never know what you’ll find on a library shelf when you’re foraging for a read. There, in the Political Science section, was a dusty copy of Dave Cullen’s 2009 elegy chronicling the horrible events before and after what took place in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999, seventeen years ago today.
Twelve students and one teacher at Columbine High School were killed by fellow students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17 on Adolf Hitler’s birthday before committing suicide. Some claim it was just a coincidence, I say…not a chance these boys desperate for twisted inspiration.
Let me admit, to having a deep fascination with what comes up as mass murder. It’s not as if I’m into the gory details…it’s more its birth…where the hatred commenced.
The two infamous murderers were just kids…products of their time and place, shunned and rejected by their peers. This is how it sadly began. They were bullied, barred and never accepted feeling left out and alone.
The hurt festered into hate consuming the hearts of these two boys.
I too come from isolated, lonely beginnings never feeling loved nor embraced. In my case, it softened rather than turn me into a revenge machine, where all I wanted was to get even, but see where it might have taken a different turn.
How did the parents of these two boys not know they were planning such destruction hiding much of it in their rooms? I’m a big proponent of privacy, my mother pretending it didn’t exist, but then I didn’t hide a sawed-off shot gun in my dresser drawer next to my socks either. They were stealing, vandalizing, posting bravado on their websites…why wasn’t something done before that fateful day?
Moot I know since it happened so long ago, but that’s the power of prose…it resonates…oozing off the page like that interminable smell after a 12 alarm fire.
How did no one know what was simmering below the surface of Eric and Dylan who didn’t even try too hard to hide it. They were making bombs, bragging to whomever would listen, practically begging to be found out.
Judgment Day, is what Dylan scribbled in his diary before the massacre took place. It made me think, prior to 9/11 when if anyone took the time to notice, were so many clues to what was about to happen to change the world.
This book is not for the faint-hearted since it bleats with blood and pain, but it does sober you into a place where you feel it might have been prevented.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like that day where, if you were one of the luckier ones, were concealed beneath a desk your terror your closest ally, watching a beloved teacher slowly bleed to death, while a girl and boy you knew sat lifelessly to be heard from no more.
It rivaled those leaping from the World Trade Center while the rest of the world watched.
There’s poignancy in the macabre, don’t think there isn’t. Just because you want to hide your eyes doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful.
I don’t know what the answer is…whether to spot check your kid where he feels he’s totally exposed, stripped of all rights, or to tip-toe around pretending you don’t hear that porn/Nazi site he’s dedicated to at 3 in the morning, because you just don’t want to be that kind of parent.
I say, be that kind…because maybe, just maybe if Katharine and Wayne Harris and Thomas and Susan Klebold paid more attention, their kids along with twelve others and a teacher, might still be here to talk about it. When I read they couldn’t even bury them for fear their graves would be desecrated opting for cremation, it was then my heart made room for these two tragic families.
Columbine, written by journalist Dave Cullen, is a riveting revelation for what, God forbid, could be more coming down the pike if as parents, we’re not more vigilant.
Recommended reading: A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
A mother’s worst nightmare. Her candor, laced with courage, coming clean concerning all she felt, softened me toward her, truth once again leading the charge.