It’s been quite the weekend. I spent much of it sitting on my couch, engrossed in the latest Assassins Creed on my Xbox. I had planned to do much more, but life has a way of getting in the way of that. This weekend, the beast that is my high school reared it’s ugly head once again, and I spent the weekend trying to forget. Ezio helped.
Shortly following the massacre at my high school on April 20th, 1999, I began receiving letters. They came in droves, too many to read. They still come to this day. They are generally very nice words; support for my loss and people wishing well. Some are not, however. No, they aren’t filled with anger. Instead, they are a bit more sad.
The sadness comes through clearly. They claim to understand why the shootings happened, and hope I don’t give up on life. Something along the lines of ‘you aren’t alone’. These letters were all too common, and over time I came to hate these letters. I would have been happier if the experiences at Columbine made me alone. Instead, it seemed to bring out the others who had been tormented by bullies and teachers. And there were tons of them.
One was a young girl, my age, who lived in Australia. You tend to remember the letters from far away. Australia and Russia were the furthest I got, and they both had the same sadness. The girl from Australia had written not to tell me that she understood me ot empathized. She bypassed that entirely. Instead, she wrote to say she liked me.
She had seem me on the news and on Oprah. She saw me speak of how Eric, one of the shooters at Columbine, and myself had a falling out. He threatened my life and hated me. In these clips she saw me talk about my senior year, and how I put it all behind me. My father would say I was being the bigger man. I told Eric to put it all in the past, and that we should move on. Apparently, he agreed – 4 months later he didn’t put a bullet in my head as he began his rampage.
But, this girl in Australia wrote me to tell me that she was thankful I did that. Not because it lead to him letting me live, or even because it was a nice thing to do. For her, she saw someone do what she never got – let someone change and grow. She told me how she felt ostracized by her peers, and how nobody ever let her change. She thanked me for not being one of those people who never let you change.
The letters, your your perusal:
She would write, and then call. We’d chat. It was always sad – I wasn’t nearly out of my own depression, let alone able to help her out of hers. This went on a bit, then ended. I don’t remember the last time we chatted.
Then I get a call from my parents Friday night. Apparently Kristen and her twin sister had moved to Denver a few months ago. I’m guessing so they could study Columbine and find out why it happened. They wouldn’t be the first who thought that’d do it. They won’t be the last. During their time there, nobody really knows what happened. And early Friday, the two had gone to the local gun range, rented some guns, and shot themselves in the head.
Over the years, I’ve lost many people I knew to suicide. Too many, by any standards. It never quite gets easier. I don’t know exactly what drove the girls to do what they did, but I have a theory – nobody ever gave them a chance to change. Call it a hunch.