This month has been challenging for me. Three funerals, ending the quarter, and a shocking and appalling election season, have left me feeling burdened, scared, and alone. I had solace though, a woman I have never met, though I have always been connected to kept me company as I grieved and writhed in anger. Her name is Sue Klebold. She is a teacher, an administrator, a mental health advocate, and the mother of “Monster Next Door” Dylan Klebold, who committed one of the worst atrocities of the century.
A few months ago, my parents sat in on a lecture called “Leaving the nest,” to help them as I left community college and entered university, 1300 miles away from home. In it, a psychologist, tasked with consoling our parents, gave a brief summary on life through our eyes. He said that Newtown was our Columbine, and while I understand his point in a macro-generational sense, it simply does not describe me. For nineteen years I lived five and a half miles from Columbine High School, nestled into a Littleton Neighborhood. Our high school had a club dedicated to Rachel Scott, the first victim of the massacre. Every April 20th, beginning about the 18th, the air becomes heavy and Littletonites will tell you the tangible feeling of doom and dread the date brings with it.
I grew up with Columbine, and while our community upheld (and continues to uphold) our promise to never forget, my mother taught me another lesson too. She taught me to pray for the Harris’ and the Klebold’s, and more the hundreds of parents just like them. My mother always made it clear in our household how disgusted she was with our town’s reaction to Eric and Dylan’s parents, and I, too, always mourn the lives of Eric and Dylan, and send a prayer up for their parents, each April 20th, as I mourn and pray for the victims. So you can imagine my discomfort with reading reactions damning Sue Klebold for writing her story and trying to educate other parents on the nature of “brain illness.”
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of the Columbine Tragedy is a hard but important look at the life of Dylan Klebold, and the legacy he left for parents Sue and Tom, and brother Byron. Klebold is honest and heartbreaking. She seeks to, not pardon Dylan, but to humanize him, to wake up the people who think something like Columbine would never happen to them. She wrestles with the question: how do you mourn someone the world has come to hate? How do you acknowledge your own grief, and also mourn the lives your son stole?
Sue Klebold’s knack for writing is apparent but her editorial team let her down. While beautiful, her research-infused memoir is chaotic and disorganized, perhaps representing her own psyche as she grapples with guilt and suffering.
Klebold had a front row seat to the unraveling of a nation, and she and her family suffered the eye of the rage and silence of the hurricane. Her memoir is never self-serving or naive, and her heart is spilled out on every page. While it took me a while to muster up the courage to dive into this, I’m so glad I took the time, and took it when I did. If you need a friend, or someone who understands, turn to Sue. She has few answers, but her tolerance for questions is inspiring, and her anger, confusion, and grief is present of every page. I urge every person to pick this up, and to approach it with an open heart and mind.
Thanks for reading! Hope you all are able to check these out!!! Please feel free to connect with me on Twitter and Tumblr, and read along with me on Goodreads. This November I’m reading: A Manual for Cleaning Women, The Social Life of DNA, and The Goldfinch.