A few weeks ago it was one of those perfect Colorado spring snowdays. We had received about 4 inches of snow overnight but it was warm enough to go play outside in just a sweatshirt.
My son was asking to go to the park and we were running errands on the South side of town so I decided to take him to Clement Park. We go to this park often when we’re on that side of town, he loves the playground there.
After about an hour of playing in the snow I was wanting to walk a bit and we hadn’t seen another person. I’ve only gone over to the Columbine Memorial once and decided to walk over there. I explained to my son that we needed to be quiet and not touch things and that Mommy might feel sad but it wasn’t because of anything he had done. When we got there most of the memorial was melted but the words “Never Forgotten” written on the ground had a perfect layer of snow on each letter. I had to take a photograph because it really struck a cord with my heart to see them like this.
I remember that horrible, scary, awful day so well. Waiting in agony literally for days to hear about the fate of my friends. Being told we were not allowed to leave our classroom. Feeling like the school we were huge rivals with couldn’t possibly be the same place we were seeing on the news. Comforting close friends who had lost people they love.
And now here we are 15 years later…. I remember when we went back to school talking to my friends about how strange it would be on the 15th Anniversary because kids would be Freshman at Columbine and not have even been born on the day our childhoods ended. Praying that those kids would never understand or experience what we did- that no kids ever anywhere would experience that again.
And here I was almost 15 years later standing in the memorial looking at this beautiful snowy scene. The only other thing under snow that day were the names of the victims. At first I was really upset by this and wanted to see their names and tried to clear the snow. Then I just felt like they needed to be left… their names are on my heart and in my mind. I see their faces and I know their stories.
The snow covered them that day. It was a reminder for me that though we will never, ever forget and will live with that memory forever- God has covered it and had it covered from that first shot at 11:21am on April 20th 1999. It’s been covered in cleansing love and healing whiter than this perfectly untouched white snow. It snowed shortly after that day 15 years ago and I remember thinking at the time how nice it was to have snow to cover it… like maybe after the snow melted it might all be clean and new and right again.
15 years later too many similar incidents have occurred and every time I hear about one or I hear lots of sirens nearby I worry and the teenager in me remembers every feeling on that day. It was the worst day of my life and I would never wish that experience on anyone but in so many ways it defined me and changed me. It is my story, our story, Colorado’s story and humanities story.
15 years later I am so glad this day falls on Easter. In 2003 Easter was on April 20th. I remember my pastor saying “It’s April 20th but it’s also Easter. You can either run and hide in terror or look forward in hope and healing.” Now that I’m a parent I especially cling to this. I can pray for my child and hope beyond all hope that he’ll NEVER know an experience like this or I can worry, hide and shelter him.
I choose hope. I choose to cling to the fact that my Lord came once and for all to take the penalty for all our sin and now lives again. I choose to remember that no matter how atrocious the act, my God is bigger and will work in each and every situation. My faith stumbled and got a little bruised as a young teen experiencing all of this and I came out on the other side stronger and more in love than ever with the One who experienced more pain and sorrow than any of us could know on that day 15 years ago and so many days since…
As a side note I feel like a lot of people never know about asking Colorado natives our “story” from that day. I don’t mind sharing…