Hope for Columbine

By Krista Kafer “Dead bodies don’t look like they do in the movies,” Marjorie Lindholm told the Rocky Mountain News. A survivor of the Columbine tragedy, Marjorie and her mother Peggy have published a book, A Columbine Survivor’s Story, about the grisly experience of that day.

A sophomore with dreams of one day becoming a doctor, Marjorie was taking a science class when shots erupted. By the time SWAT lead them out, the killers had executed their plan, a year in the making, leaving 13 students dead, many more wounded, and a community crushed by shock and grief.

I remember with eerie clarity the moment I found out. I was two thousand miles away from home, working for Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer. A coworker said, “Isn’t that your home town?” and I looked up at a mounted television monitor at the words “Littleton, Colorado.” A frenzied journalist was speculating over the rumble of helicopter blades and the shriek of sirens. Students were fleeing the building where I had ten years earlier attended high school. The images seemed foreign and the words incomprehensible.

Even as I learned the details I could not shake the disbelief. In phone conversations, my parents told me about the kids we knew, a funeral at their church, the news media camped in the park on the edge of their neighborhood, and the chill that had crept over the community. I remember talking with Congressman Tom Tancredo as we walked back from a committee hearing, both of us far from home trying to come to grips with what had happened.

I grew up in that neighborhood, caught crayfish in the creek, sneaked cigarettes in the park, ate innumerable French fries at McDonalds, and planned for the future when I should have been listening in class. Didn’t we all dream of the same things? Of college, of love, of an untamed landscape, the future, at the edge of our minds where anything was possible? It’s hard to imagine that anyone could have looked out the classroom window and dreamt of something so horrific. It’s hard to imagine that kind of evil in ones so young. Even now, the knowledge remains tinged with disbelief.

Marjorie’s story reminds us that although national attention has moved on what happened here was very real. The wounds those students gouged with their hatred have not all healed. Scars from that day run deep. Marjorie left school her senior year unable to cope. She later earned her GED. Struggling financially and emotionally, Marjorie embarked on a project to bring healing for herself and hope for others. She wrote a book she hopes will help others as they struggle to come to terms with hardship. You can meet Marjorie at a book signing at Arapahoe Community College on Nov. 17.

I’ll be away on the 17th, back in DC for a brief visit, so can't attend the book signing. If you go, tell Marjorie I’m proud of her and I hope this book will be the beginning of a new dream. I hope for Columbine.