In the summer between grades 5 and 6, I took my routine trip to the United States. I spent most of that summer in Maryland with an uncle, aunt, and three cousins, and settled easily into suburban life.
While visiting, my uncle proposed starting the filing process to make me a resident in the United States. My mother agreed, but I didn’t believe it would happen until I saw my flight date slip by, followed by the date I should have returned to school in Jamaica.
Months later, mom learned about the Columbine shooting. Terrified that she could lose me in as tragic an incident, at school no less, and convinced it would only become a more frequent happening in America, she packed me up and sent me straight home.
The Columbine Shooting
It goes without saying that Columbine changed a lot of lives, on this day, 19 years ago — least of all, mine. Sure, I missed months of school, and spent my first day of class unable to fathom why there were letters on the board in math class.
But that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of lives changed by the cold and calculated massacre carried out by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Harris and Klebold originally planned to bomb the entire school, but the plan failed, compelling them to turn to their backup plan: guns. The two boys, just weeks from graduation, murdered 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 21 people.
The Oblivious Parent
While the victims and their families no doubt suffered immensely, during and after the shooting, the victim I am most curious about is the oblivious mother, who had to find out from police officers and the news that her son was a stone-cold killer.
Watch her story below, as a BBC reporter walks her through the horrific aftermath of the Columbine shooting.
One of the things I admire is how well she holds herself together, though she is clearly deeply affected by all that has happened.
Unlike many of the mothers whose sons commit atrocities (like the mother of Brock Turner!), she does not for a second excuse the actions of her son, or downplays the hurt he caused others.
I can only begin to imagine the long, hard road it took to get her to that point. The constant guilt and wondering. How did I not know? How did I miss the signs? Who is this 17-year-old boy I thought I raised?