Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Title: A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Author: Sue Klebold
Published: February 15th 2016 by Crown
Format: Hardcover, 305 pages
Genre: Memoir

I have had very mixed feelings while reading this book. Seventeen years after the Columbine school shooting, Sue Klebold the mother of Dylan, has put her feelings and research to words and shares with the reader her journey through the nightmare. After the incident, the Klebold’s secluded themselves and now it is time for Sue to come forward and share with the reader what she has come to know.

From the “not my son” to the “I hope that he died so I would not lose him twice” to her dawning realization, in hindsight, of the clues that were there the whole time to coming out of the dark and into the light of a new world without her child. Sue shares her journey where she will always love her child but has to face the reality of what he did.

It would be easy to blame Eric Harris for including Dylan, but over the last seventeen years, Sue came to an understanding that it was just the perfect storm of two boys, one with a dynamic personality and one teetering on suicidal depression that lead them both to this ultimate showdown.

From time to time, I found myself getting mad at Sue; she used the term brain illness, which repeatedly came across to me as a form of excuse making. She said frequently that what happened was a murder suicide - that this was her son’s final act. I guess we would all use the terms that work for us. We do not want to blame the person that is in crisis and that we desperately love, but we do want the right person to be held accountable and sometimes the only one that can tell this story are the loved ones that are left behind.

From the beginning there seemed to be a naiveté when it comes to Sue. Perfect home life, perfect marriage and perfect children. No worries since dinner was on the table every night. That perfect bubble began to crack when Dylan and Eric had a couple of run-ins with the law, but still, Dylan was in therapy and graduating early from the program and all was going to be right with the world. She may have checked his room for drugs and stolen items, but no alarms or red flags arose because this was her Dylan with plenty of friends and even a prom date. If only she had known of the “Basement Tapes” and the angry vitriol that was boiling within her son.

I still feel that Sue was holding back. She mentioned lawsuits and I wonder from time to time if she did not go into depth out of fear of further retribution or if the pain is still too raw. I do believe that she had no forewarning of the pending events. She had seen signs of moodiness and stress with her son but attributed them to normal teenage things. If she had only known then what she knows now, everything would be different. When asked if she has forgiven Dylan she speaks of her need to forgive herself. That she is the one that had let him down.

I do not want to judge Sue, I truly am trying to understand the person that she was and the person who she is now. From April 20, 1999 to this day, she has been living a nightmare. She has been searching for answers and living with this burden. At times, her panic attacks were so acute that she began to understand her son’s suicidal impulses. A toll was taken on her health, her marriage and her remaining son, yet she still manages to put one foot in front of the other and now dedicates her life to suicide prevention.

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