Perhaps, like me, you have pondered the massacre committed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, murdering students, killing a teacher, and injuring twenty-one more innocent people. Undoubtedly you were shocked, frightened, confused about what kind of children – because really, the murderers were no more adult than were most of their victims – could commit such a heinous act. And maybe, like so many of us, you’ve wondered about the life they lived that would bring them to do such a deed. If you are a parent – and maybe even if you aren’t – you’ve thought about the role the boys’ parents played in this terrible tragedy and how they’ve survived the aftermath.
Sue Klebold, the mother of shooter Dylan Klebold, has written a book to relate her experience and explain the lessons she’s learned in the seventeen years since that day. Before you read any farther I want to make it clear that, in my opinion, she is one of the bravest women I’ve ever known of. This book is not an attempt to excuse or justify the inexcusable. This is a forthright and honest attempt to take us through one of the most horrifying journeys a parent could ever travel.
I debated whether or not I could even read A Mother’s Reckoning because, as a mother, I can’t – don’t want to – imagine the pain, the horror, the grief that these boys left behind. I couldn’t imagine how one reconciles the child she loved with the perpetrator of such horror. Ms. Klebold has done a masterful job of baring her soul, of taking us into a place that we can only pray we will never be. She’s done so honestly, making no excuses for herself, her family, her son or the acts he committed.
In this book she recounts the day of the shooting, the immediate aftermath, her attempts to fashion a post-Columbine life, and her ideas concerning how, as a compassionate society, we can work toward preventing what is becoming a more and more frequent occurrence. It’s well worth reading her thoughts on this – the only hint I will give is that it doesn’t have anything to do with gun control. This is not an easy book to read but it is, I believe, an important book.
I have tremendous respect for Ms. Klebold, for her truthfulness, her courage, her compassion for her son’s victims and their families. And I believe that in recounting her thoughts on that terrible day, as she listened to the newscasters pronounce that twenty-five people were dead, she has written the most heartbreaking words I’ve ever read:
If Dylan was involved in hurting or killing other people, he had to be stopped. As a mother, this was the most difficult prayer I had ever spoken in the silence of my thoughts, but in that instant I knew the greatest mercy I could pray for was not my son’s safety, but for his death.