This book has changed me.
Never in my life have I been my immersed in the world of a non-fiction book than last week, when I read Sue Klebold’s (mother of Dylan Klebold -one of the Columbine shooters) memoir A Mother’s Reckoning.
Sue’s journey through grief, her recount of that time in the shadow of what now, has almost become commonplace horror, and the personal recount of events of April the 20th 1999 all make this book a must-read. But what sets it apart from anything I have ever read is Sue’s voice and the way her love for her son is entrenched in every page, without ever excusing his actions.
Sue now campaigns for brain health (a term I absolutely agree with, and prefer to the intangibility of ‘mental’ health). All proceeds from the sale of this book goes to brain health charities.
Never before have I dreamt of things from the books I read. When reading A Mother’s Reckoning, I dreamt of somehow stopping what happened early on – really, just reaching out to, whether or not they are ‘victims of bullying’ or even diagnosably ‘unwell’, isolated and sad teenagers.
Reading about Dylan brought back memories that I hadn’t even known I still had. Remember how self-conscious you were as a teenager? I wouldn’t even look at myself in the mirror in bathrooms because I felt so self-conscious that someone would see me looking at myself and wonder why I would.
My parents and I now joke about how I didn’t talk to them all through my adolescence, and we can laugh about it now, but damn – it is so apparent from this book that the parents really did not know anything about this massacre. This brings home that even the people closest to you can not know every single part of you, unless you decide to make it so. There are things that happen to all of us during those years that people may still not know about. I am lucky to not, knowingly, having anything still living with me that I need to talk to someone about – but if you do, please, know that time doesn’t necessarily heal everything.
I thank the universe that I never met someone like Eric Harris, who may have convinced me to do something awful. I also thank the universe that I am not like Eric Harris, and for the one good thing that came from Columbine – that young people who talk about killing people and weapons can be given help without the person reporting feeling paranoid or silly.
I am now reading Dave Cullen’s Columbine – to get an account of what happened to all the other people whose life changed forever that day. It blows my mind that now, people who were paralysed, or told to ‘go home’, lived through that day or had loved ones die that day are on Facebook and reddit. I recommend reading some of the people’s AMAs – I am just in a mind space where I need to find out all that I can about this topic so I can mentally put it to bed.
With hindsight, and I know it kills me that our culture is so Americanised, but we seem to see the world as post September 11, where angry, disaffected people do terrible things to send a message. In reality, perhaps Columbine was really this cultural changing point.
Read this book now.