10 years ago.

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.



Filed under aiming at heaven, my friends., sad stuff

8 responses to “10 years ago.

  1. dustin

    It is amazing how strong the ripple effect is when something of this magnitude happens. A very interesting reflection.

  2. Mary Hendrickson

    you made me tear up. your blog really reminded me of that horrible day and all the intricate conversations and images and tragedy that we came in such close contact with. it will be in our hearts and memories forever. thanks for going against your usual nature and giving a solid perspective and memorial to all who were affected on April 20, 1999.

  3. Sharon

    Kate, thanks for ‘tackling’ it! As a mom that season was heart wrenching. I remember thinking there was a shift for the better in all of you. A momentary sort of sobering, maybe the realization that life is fragile and precious, and horrible things happen. My memory may not be clear and I can only say what I observed, but Kate, I remember you reconnecting with Chris, being there and helping him walked through that time… just as you have walked with others since then. Maybe God was doing more there than you remember.

  4. Growing up in church/youth group it’s almost impossible for me to separate the words “Columbine” and “Cassie” into different thoughts. I’m glad I got to read your perspective. Looking back it’s hard to remember much, HS was awkward enough, add to it a shift in reality like Columbine and much of it becomes a hazy memory shrouded in the limited capacity of a pre-teen mind. As Dustin remarked I think something like this continues to resonate in our spirits years later… Thanks for your story

  5. i was never really close to this situation. just a colorado resident who was bewildered that something like this could happen in such a quiet community. and then i had the wonderful opportunity to live with dana scott. just to hear her testimony, and rachel’s story that lives on, has been a living example of God making beauty out of ashes. she is a shining witness for God’s mercy and grace as well as a witness of great forgiveness.

  6. Dexter

    Very interesting take, especially since it’s so close to mine.

    It’s interesting how events like this can lead you to think of someone differently. If Columbine hadn’t happened, I’m not sure I would remember Cassie at all. Yet because of it I remember having a study hall with her and Chris a year before she died. At the time she was just another person, neither remarkable nor unremarkable. However, when faced with this extraordinary circumstance she demonstrated what a remarkable woman she was. I’m suer I never would have known that about her.

  7. thatgirlkate

    @ Dexter-ok, wait. are you saying you went to CFS? Do we know eachother?

  8. alysha larrison

    Hey!!! Today~(4-28-09) my team at school had a girl come and talk to us about the colimbine shooting. She was actually involved in it~meaning that she was shot at and it did not hit her. She said that it all happened so fast, that they said that a ho0mless guy came into the school and started shooting. She also had said that kids were so freaked out that they said that ALIENS came into the school, because it all had happened so fast. She had bullyed someone who was shot, and killed instantly, and she never had a chance to say she is sorry. She said that the two boys Dylyn and Eric that they had hid guns in a duffel bag that morning in the cafeteria. They(the two boy7s) had switched up the quote of the day to”YOU WISH YOU WERE NOT HERE AT SCHOOL TODAY!!!” She said that it was an awkwered quote of the day for the teacher to put, and no one had even thought anything about it.

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