All day I have debated whether or not to write about the 10 year anniversary of Columbine. I hate being on any bandwagon and I especially hate when people use large-scale tragedies as their own personal drama. I decided to go against my usual ways and just let myself write. Who cares if it will seem cliche and typical.
10 years ago I was a freshman at Christian Fellowship School. We were sitting at lunch when a rumor starting going around that someone had been shot at Columbine. We were a small Christian school but all had friends at Columbine. It was the public school that kids would leave CFS for, and all the rest of us would be jealous of their freedom. One of those students who left us for the cool, public school was Cassie Bernall.
Hearing that someone was shot could not have been more foreign or hard to understand to a bunch of kids from the suburbs. This was before cell phones, remember, and we were hearing crazy stuff about bombs and kids lying dead all over. Instead of feeling sadness it was more like an electric buzz of excitement. Lunch ended and we all went back to class as usual. I was in my English class and it was about 12:30. We were asked to write a paper about something I don’t remember when all of the sudden I felt a surge of fear and grief so strong that I started crying and couldn’t stop. They sent me to the Vice Principals office so I could talk to someone and calm down. No one else was crying at this point. We didn’t really know what was going on enough to take it in and cry. I didn’t know at that time that Cassie Bernall was in the library and had just been killed.
I wasn’t that close to Cassie. Her brother Chris was actually a close friend and the last time I had seen Chris and Cassie was when we all went to a OC Supertones concert. We all swore we would love Ska forever.
I don’t know why I was overwhelmed with sadness so strong at the same time that Cassie died. We wouldn’t find out that she had been killed until late that night when she never came home. Coincidence? I have no idea. There really is no connection that makes sense. All I know is that it is what I experienced.
The weeks that followed I now interpret through an adult mind. I was just such a child still. We would visit the make-shift memorials at Clement Park dropping off flowers and slowly walking by the TV booths where Tom Brokah or MTV was broadcasting. We attended Cassie’s funeral and for some reason all went bowling together after. We saw Michael W Smith and Amy Grant play a tribute concert on the steps of our local movie theater, down the street from Columbine. It was all so surreal and I don’t think I ever really have understood the depth and the horrible things that happened that day. It’s forever frozen in the mind of a 15 year old girl with limited understanding.
Cassie has become a living legend in my mind. Part of her reality and another part folklore or fantasy. If she were alive today I’m certain we would not even be in touch. But yet in her death she is important to me and I’ll never forget her. The deepness of death can sometimes take years to really set in. In my case it has taken about 10.