Today is the 10 year anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. The school is located in Littleton, CO which is less than 30 miles from where I live. 10 years ago today my babies were almost 9 months old and I was still a stay at home mom, so when the television coverage started I was watching. And couldn't stop. I compare it to how I lived and breathed the coverage on 9/11. I sobbed for days watching the stories about the kids who were killed and injured and the one teacher who lost his life. I was devastated in a way I hadn't yet experienced in my life. Because now I was a mom. And those murdered kids were the precious babies of moms who spoke about them with tears in their eyes and in their throats.
A week after, my dad and I drove to Littleton to the memorial that had grown in the days after the shootings. There were so many flowers, banners, stuffed animals and other mementos left in the park near the school. Hundreds of people and yet it was so quiet. Everyone spoke in hushed voices. Two cars that belonged to kids who were killed had been moved to the memorial and were covered with flowers and notes. You could still see through a couple of windows and it was a snapshot of their life the morning of their deaths. I started to cry, but held back not knowing if it would make my dad uncomfortable. Plus I didn't think that I could stop if I started. While we were making our way through it all, we noticed a quiet commotion nearby. Sarah Ferguson was there to pay her respects as well. It was very surreal to be honest.
Before we left that day, we climbed a hill that overlooked the school where another memorial of sorts stood. There were 13 crosses for the people who were killed and although the man who put them there placed one for each of the shooters as well, those had been removed and just the holes where they had stood remained. It was horribly emotional up on that hill with such stark reminders of the lives who were lost. On the way back down, I lost it. I was sobbing and my dad just put his arm around my shoulders and we walked and cried together. When we got to the bottom, he asked me if I was okay and I asked him how on earth could I deal with sending my babies to school someday knowing what could happen? And because there was no other answer, he simply said "you just do". And that's exactly what I do. However, when they got ready to start kindergarten we chose to enroll them in a charter school. Not only for the curriculum and structure that it offered but for the safety as well. And yes, we know that if someone wants in bad enough that they'll figure out a way to do it. But it gives us that additional ounce of security and it's enough.
10 years later, the shootings at Columbine still hit a raw nerve. I spent the morning reading about the vigil last night, the memorials planned for today, the stories of where the injured are today, and some of the police reports and photos from that day. And I had to stop when the tears started. I still remember their names and their faces and their parents faces and their stories and I am reminded of how I felt and how I mourned for them. But my babies will be at home when I get there today, and have been for the last 10 years. But for 12 families, their babies have not been and that just tears me apart.