This morning I was researching nonfiction reading materials to use with our high school curriculum in the spirit of the Common Core Standards when I happened across a sidebar that indicated Susan Klebold received a book deal to write a memoir regarding her experiences following the Columbine Tragedy. I can well imagine how difficult a process this will be for her to go back in time in order to recount what had to have been the most painful experience of her life but the first thing that came to mind for me was that now iconic image of Rachel Joy Scott sitting peacefully upon a boulder beside a lake in a purple blouse and blue jeans.
The Columbine Tragedy took place more than fifteen years ago and yet if often seems as if only days have passed by and even 9/11 sometimes seems to pale beside the horror of those two troubled boys turning their wrath and weapons upon their classmates, some of whom they once called friends.
One of the more touching books I have read was Rachel’s Tears and I continue to refuse to part with it. It was a book I stumbled upon many years ago in a Deseret Industries Thrift Store and it truly served to personalize the Tragedy of April 20, 1999.
I have been troubled with the stance that some of my A Course in Miracles friends take when they insist that all of the bad that goes on out there is only an illusion that we have manufactured in our ego consciousness and means nothing at all. I don’t buy it.
Now I understand that we human beings have a limit to our perceptions and, as such, can never truly appreciate the true and complete nature of anything but that doesn’t mean the out there is illusory. Yes it’s true that we may not see it all but what we sense is real and the pain and suffering of our sisters, brothers, and cousins around this planet of ours is as real as Rachel’s disbelief when Eric walked to where she was sitting and shot her dead.
Rachel Joy Scott inspired a legacy and I have had the good fortune to experience several of the Rachel’s Challenge assemblies, both as a teacher and as a private citizen, and found them to be truly inspiring events. In this small way Rachel lives on.
In his poem A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, Of a Child in London Dylan Thomas concludes with the line: After the first death, there is no other. That line has been a cryptic puzzle for me for sometime and I have tried many times to reason what Thomas meant by it. Now this is a poem that comes to mind whenever the memory of Rachel intrudes and, for some reason, I have subconsciously connected London’s daughter with Columbine’s daughter and it’s likely because Rachel was the first to die on that black Tuesday.
I returned to work after the distraction but my mind wouldn’t let it go and I later recalled that Rachel had developed some strong Christian convictions and it occurred to me how Thomas’s last line might apply to Rachel and that is: After the first death there is the resurrection and eternal life and, if there really is a happily ever after, I believe Rachel has earned her place in it.