I’ve started and stopped, typed and deleted and shed more tears than I had planned, for it only being 10:45am on a Tuesday morning.
How many instances are there in your life where you can point to that exact moment, and know that your life was changed forever? For me, and it feels like the world, today is the anniversary of one of those days, twenty two years ago. It was a beautiful spring day, blue skies filled with promise of the summer to come.
Never in my wildest dreams, could I have anticipated how that day would unfold. When I look back, it seems unreal, and yet the heaviness in my heart says otherwise. That day pulled me in so many directions simultaneously, and still does.
For many people, this is a day of sadness. A day of remembering loved ones lost, and mourning lost innocence. For others it’s a day of shame too, largely due to their connections. For many that I know and love, today is a day riddled with guilt- guilt for surviving, guilt for not getting there in time or doing enough, guilt for things said or not said. Personally, I join the ranks of all three.
In addition to those, this is the anniversary of the day I refused to literally be pushed around, chastising the adult who put their hands on me more than once. This is the anniversary of the day I punched a substitute teacher in the face, and I’d do it again if it meant helping a friend as it did that day. This is the anniversary of the day I truly feared for the lives of my Dad and his coworkers. This is the anniversary of the day I realized that art, in its many forms, soothes my soul.
Over the years I’ve been angry, I’ve been sad, I’ve been resentful or judgmental. I’ve gotten offended by the platitudes of “We are Columbine” that fill the news waves and social media feeds alike. I’ve been hurt by the “Never Forgotten” words scrolled atop an image of columbine flowers, which seem to only matter once a year. I’ve wondered why and what could have been done differently, both personally and on a larger scale. I’ve railed against the fact that these instances are becoming more common place and more normalized. And I’ve cried, boy have I ever cried.
In the weeks leading up to that initial one year mark, a dear friend had suggested I do things to honor those I’d lost that day. He’d been with me in the days and weeks that followed. He’d gone with me to leave flowers at Rachel’s car and accompanied me when I visited the two sawed down crosses. More than anything, he just let me process and work through things in a way that felt right to me. I know he was concerned with the anniversary coming up, and he was trying to help find a way to put a silver lining on the shitty situation. “Do things to honor them, something to keep their spirit alive and well.” He didn’t know them and was of no real help in trying to come up with ideas, though his heart was in the right place.
Today will mark the twenty first year of me doing a good deed, of doing something to honor each of them. This year, however, instead of doing three, I will do four. The new one will be in honor of the dear friend who gave me the idea in the first place. For the friend who called me on this day for twenty years to see what I had done to honor them and see how I was holding up. For the friend who called every time there was a similar incident to make sure I was okay. That fourth one will hold the space where that phone call used to be, since he can’t make that call any more.
This morning was a different sort of spring time beautiful; a few inches of snow covered the earth. The sky was clear and blue, and the rising sun seemed to illuminate things faster with the reflection off the snow. As the sun rose above the horizon, a glowing orange ball, there was one lingering cloud that turned from purple to orange to pink. The drive into work was slow and steady due to the snow. It gave me more time to appreciate the rising sun. It also allowed me to enjoy watching the snow dance across the road behind the cars, in that mesmerizing way that it does.
It’s going to be a good day, despite my heavy heart… no, it’s going to be a good day because of it.
Do something kind today, make some ripples.