For four days I have been avoiding chapter seven of Lamb’s new novel, The First Hour I Believed. I started reading other books. I cleaned the oven. I took a toothbrush to the tiles in the bathroom. I did everything I could to keep myself from reading the part in the book when Caelum goes home to Colorado to make sure his wife, the part-time school nurse at Columbine High School, hasn’t been one of the ones in the line of fire of either Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold.

From the blurb on the back of the book, I know his wife Maureen isn’t dead. Also, this book isn’t about the insane tragedy of the school shooting, so I know she isn’t dead.

However, I still avoided reading chapter seven for four days.

I didn’t want to read what it was like being in that school and hearing shots and bombs going off.  I didn’t want to imagine what it would be like watching my students gun down my other students. But, if I didn’t read it, I wouldn’t be able to understand both Caelum and Maureen’s actions in the coming pages.

I was surprised by the bold move to add excerpts from Harris’ and Klebold’s personal journals, class assignments, and video journals. Lamb uses the boys’ own words to show us who the boys were and where their minds were as they were leading up to the shoot-out.

I think the thing that resonated with me came from Harris. He states that it was no one’s fault but his own. No music or TV show made him do this; he did this because he did. Harris said he was sorry to his parents because they were the best parents in the world. Harris stated he was sorry to those he loved and he knew his parents would be shocked by all of “this”.

I remember the aftermath of the Columbine shooting. Everyone was blaming music and video games. But Harris and Klebold wanted it understood these actions came from nothing but their own minds. They felt isolated and alone and they felt shooting everyone was the only way to make it all go away.

The boys wanted to make a mark in the world; however, they really made a Grand Canyon size hole. So much has changed because of that day and what those boys did to themselves. Adults finally started really looking at their kids. Teachers started really paying attention to writing assignments. Anti-bullying codes started surfacing in schools and metal detectors poped up in suburban schools. Because of them, things have changed, but the cost is far too great.

The boys were silently telling people for so long how much pain they were in. They couldn’t name the pain. They didn’t want to burden loved ones with their thoughts. Yet, so many teens still do this. So many teens just suffer in silence because they think adults are picking up on the signs.  The truth is no one is a mind reader and no one can understand the amount of pain another can be in.

So much was lost that day in Colorado and we are still seeing just how much we lost. I tip my hat to Lamb for taking on this topic and showing us how even people who were in the building that day lost their lives. They may still be living, but their lives have been forever altered. They aren’t the same and they never will be the same.

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