Passing the Time
Heather Egeland, Columbine survivor and Rebels Project co-founder
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch the news. I avoid it at all costs, actually. So it’s no surprise that I didn’t know until the day it was happening that the Columbine memorial was being unveiled. I was at my parent’s house, stopping by before I had to be at work that evening, when my mom asked if I was going to the unveiling. At first, I told her no, that I had to be at work by five.
Then I started wondering if I would regret not going, if I would be at work all night distracted and thinking about it. In the past, I have avoided just about anything connected with the shootings. Typically, I went out of town on anniversaries, up to a secluded cabin in Estes Park, a road trip down to visit friends in New Mexico, or a girl’s road trip to stay with friends and family in Oklahoma. Not only did I want to avoid the media that crowded our neighborhood every year, but I also wanted to avoid the reminders – I didn’t want to see Clement Park and think of all the flowers and people weeping into each other’s arms. I didn’t want to be reminded of seeing my second-period teacher with blood on her shirt hugging me as we stood on the grass beside Pierce street. I didn’t want to remember how it felt to be practically comatose with shock as the police went around and gathered our statements to determine what the hell had happened that spring day in April.
As I thought about all these horrific snapshots from my past, I came to realize that I was skipping out on opportunities to make new memories -ones without horror. Of course I would never forget the events of that day, but because I was determined not to face them, I was keeping myself from accepting that my life would not ever be the same as it was before the shooting.
That I would forever be changed.
So my mom and I headed to the memorial. We had to park across Bowles and walk because of the crowds, and the media was back in full force.We steered clear of the cameras and made our way to the stage where the dedication would be made. I remember that it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining down as Dawn Anna and Patrick Ireland spoke.
And most of all I remember the doves. They released 13 doves to represent those we lost that day and about a hundred more to represent the injured and the community. And while I never actually walked down to read the inscriptions or plaques on that day, I took a giant step by attending a Columbine related function – something I had avoided doing for almost 9 years. This small step eventually led to me visiting the school on our 10 year anniversary, but that’s a story for another time.
On the 17 year anniversary, today, I will be with loved ones and feeling grateful for all the new people I have met along the way.
Thanks for reading – there is a lot of love in this world, don’t forget to notice it.