Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. My dear friend and columbinus cast-mate called me late last night, after having spent the whole day holding back tears, and then finally being overwhelmed by them. She kept saying: "Why am I feeling like this? Why can't I let this go?"
There are so many people whose lives have been completely changed by the events that took place this day. And I feel disrespecful, in a way, saying that my own life has been changed by this day as well. I haven't lost a child, a friend, or a sibling. I haven't lived through blood-spattered halls and the sounds of gunshots, jeers, moans and screams. The pain all those people felt is something almost sacred, that I can't presume to even begin to understand or fathom. Their grief is something I can never feel.
But, without a doubt, Columbine has changed my life. columbinus was a show that changed me. I've been immersed in this story for over three months, and closing the show felt like coming up out of the water for a giant, refreshing breath of air. I was able to let go of the burden of the story; yet there's no way I can let go of the story itself. And I shouldn't.
There was one rehearsal, towards the beginning to the process, which was really difficult for me, and I broke down afterwards. We hadn't even started dealing with the Act II Columbine story, but I had just finished reading Columbine, by Dave Cullen (one of the reporters who covered the shootings), and I was so weighed down by the story. After rehearsal, I spent a good hour and a half talking with our awesome director and stage manager, and trying to find words to describe the feelings of grief that overwhelmed me. Then, on my way home, I stopped by the adoration chapel, and kneeling in the back, I looked up at the Eucharist. I realized I was sitting in front of the one person who had never let that story go; and He was still feeling the pain, the sorrow and the grief as acutely as He did that very day. As much as I was grieving for those 15 people, and as much as I loved them; He loved them infinitely more, and was grieving for what took place on April 20th. I realized that I could share all that sorrow with Him; He understood perfectly what I was feeling.
As a Littleton parent said: "There's no such thing as closure; they're our kids and we don't want to put them behind us." We don't always have to carry the burden of the story, but we can never let it go. Every single person deserves to have their story told-and never forgotten. It's the least we can do to try to right the wrong that was done to them.
There's a beauty and an awe in knowing there's a whole communion of people whose lives have also been touched by these events-who wake up on April 20th, knowing why this day is different from all other days. And now I'm a part of that connection.
We ARE Columbine.
We began columbinus in winter. We ended it in spring. Winter sometimes seems as though it will go on forever-we forget what it feels like to walk outside without freezing to death; feels like when the sun shines and the birds sing. By March, we begin to wonder if we'll ever see the spring. But spring always comes. Winter cannot last forever. Spring always comes.
"We die many times and experience many forms of grief; but love...it never fails. "
"There are no words to convey how sorry we are for the pain that has been brought upon the community as a result of our son's actions. The pain of others compounds our own as we struggle to live a life without the son we cherished. In the reality of the Columbine tragedy and its aftermath, we look with the rest of the world to understand how such a thing could happen.
[...] We envision a time when circumstances will allow us to join with those who share our desire to understand. In the meantime, we again express our profound condolences to those whose lives have been so tragically altered. We look forward to a day when all of our pain is replaced by peace and acceptance."
~The Klebold family -- 4-15-2000
"Ever since that day we've been obsessed with moving on or getting back...so we've gone to gun control, the music, computer games, the school, the police, the parents...looking for someone to blame. But we always find ourselves back where we started asking the same question...
I did that whole open-up-the-Bible-to-any-random-page-and-read-the-first-verse-you see-thing today, and received this little gift from God:
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.(Wisdom 3:1-5)