Today's must-read, bring your tissues is I Will Never Know Why by Susan Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold; it's at O, The Oprah Magazine.
When something like Columbine happens -- when a child becomes a killer -- it is very easy to point at the people who raised him, or her, and pass judgment. Why? I think it's so we can tell ourselves that it will never happen to our child, our loved one, because we will do a better job. I also think our society, as a whole, as a huge belief in ourselves being able to control our own destiny and the destiny and others, whether it's "I'll eat healthy foods and never get cancer, those who get cancer are those who did something wrong with life/diet/exercise" or that a parent can raise a perfect child.
My heart breaks for Susan Klebold. She has exposed herself terribly in this article; I dread reading the comments there, or the commentary that will be elsewhere. When someone goes public with something personal, it's easy to judge them as a Gosselin, doing something only for fame. Because her son isn't here to be the target of hate, it's easy to turn that hate onto her.
Klebold's very personal, very revealing article is the opposite of someone seeking fame. It's words on paper, not a paid trip to a big city to sit before an audience. It's a parent's anguish over both the loss of a child and the damage that child has done. Her words about Dylan's actions are never excuses. And her description of a young Dylan, an elementary school Dylan, describes many children we know.
Klebold asks herself, how could I have not know this? Her answer, and the reason she writes this, is that she agrees with the diagnosis that Dylan was suicidal. She is now involved with educating people about suicide, so that people can recognize the signs in others and in themselves; and the link between suicidal behaviour and violent behaviour. Which is why she writes this; but even then she cautions against thinking that we will always be able to prevent such a tragedy.
Related books I've reviewed: Columbine by Dave Cullen, which explains in much more detail Dylan Klebold's suicidal thoughts; and Hate List by Jennifer Brown, a novel, which does a stunning job of looking at the post-attack lives of those who loved a high school shooter.
Dave Cullen writes about Susan Klebold's essay at his blog, Conclusive Evidence of My Existence.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy