Monday, April 20, 2009

10 Years Ago

Ten years ago today, was a day that I will never forget, and one that will affect me for the rest of my life I am sure. This time of year always stirs up old emotions, and I find myself thinking about everything that happened that day, and replaying it in my mind. I decided to tell my story about what happened on April 20, 1999 when I was a junior at Columbine High School. I was 16 years old. I was reading reading through my journal and came across the entry that I wrote a few days after the shootings, and decided to post that. Here is my story in my own words (I abbreviated names of people for their privacy)

April 23, 1999

The past 3 or 4 or however many days it's been, I don't know time just seems to run together, have been the worst of my life. I have never felt this horrible in my life. Let me start at the beginning.... It happened Tuesday, April 20th, a day that will never be forgotten. It started out as any normal day. I had to wear a dress to school for a DECA breakfast and I was in a really bad mood because I couldn't find my black high heels that I wanted to wear with my black skirt. As it turns out, it was better that way. I left for school in a really bad mood. The only class I went to that day was journalism with Mrs J. Right after first hour I left school with my best friend, MSB. to go to the DECA breakfast which was at the Wellshire Inn. The breakfast was so much fun. Everyone had a great time. Little did we know that this was one of the last fun times we would have in a while. After the breakfast we all headed back to school. After getting lost, then stopping by my house to get candy for my seminary devotional, me and MSB. headed back to school for lunch. We parked in the student lot joking around as usual. We walked up the stairs and put my candy in my locker than went down to the cafeteria and sat at a table near a door by the windows. We sat with NS., EB., EB., MB. and MN. Everything was totally normal. It all seems like a dream and I remember everything happening in slow motion. I just had got done eating the crackers in my lunchable when K.B. ran in the door hysterical. She was like, "HELP, HELP!" and she started shaking MSB. and pulling her outside. We stood up and looked out the window. I saw AMH. hunched over with a boy, J. trying to lift her up. My first initial reaction was, she's choking and needs the Heimlich maneuver. So we ran outside. MSB first, followed by me, then, EB and NS Then, we heard something that sounded like a pop or something. We didn't really know what was going on and then MSB was like, "oh my gosh someones shooting!" and she pushed us back in. Everyone got under the tables. I remember looking up and seeing a janitor by my table with a look of terror on his face, running around. I don't remember who told us to get under the table but we did. K.B was under our table. She was hysterical. She was screaming, "AM got shot! AM! AM!" MSB and I were holding her telling her everything was going to be all right, still totally confused about what was going on. Then, J , who we had seen with AMH ran in and hunched down near our table. His face was indescribable. He said in disbelief to the janitor who pulled him in, "She got shot!". His hands were covered in blood from trying to help her. I don't know how long we were under the table. It couldn't have bben very long, although it seemed like forever. All of a sudden we heard the sound of gunshots coming from the far end of the cafeteria by the vending machines. I think someone yelled, "run!" and it was just chaos from there. MSB started crying and saying over and over, "Where's my brother....." I was clenched onto her arm pulling her, we ran up the stairs. It was like in a movie where a huge mob of people are fleeing. As we were running up the stairs all we could hear was screaming and gunshots. It was coming closer and closer. We were running for our lives. All of a sudden, MSB fell, and there was a huge stampede, and I ....kept running. I will never forgive myself for leaving her. No matter how many times people tell me there was too big of a stampede and I would never have been able to find her. To me, I should not have run. It is killing me to think of her lying there on the floor getting run on top of, and me just running out the door. I ran straight out the door with a huge mob of other students, and straight across the street, no one looking before they ran across. When we got across I sam my friend A, and ran up to her. That is when I totally lost it. I started bawling and she was trying to comfort me. No one really knew what was going on. I saw MC and LV and told them that AMH had been shot, and they started crying too. I ran up to BB and asked if he knew where MSB was. He didn't. I asked where Cindy was, and no one knew. Every time people would run out of the school, I would look for MSB and Cindy, but I never saw them. Then, suddenly, there were gunshots from the front of the school. We thought they were running out the front doors towards us, so everyone just ran. I couldn't find anyone and finally I found MC and LV again. We linked arms again and ran down the street bawling. People were running everywhere. It was complete confusion. Everyone was scared, so scared....

That is where my journal entry ended. I hadn't read this in a couple of years, and reading if sent chills up my spine. My life has been affected in so many ways from those short moments that day. Leaving my best friend behind, affected me in so many ways, and still does to this day. I was so worried about her, and never knew she was ok, until I saw her on the news later that night crying with her mom. She said that she was hiding in a science room for 4 hours. That one experience has made me question and doubt myself so much. Especially after I had kids. If I left behind my dearest friend, would I do that to my kids?? Of course I wouldn't! Every fiber of my being tells myself, but would I? This is something that I have secretly battled with.

That day I stayed glued to the television, waiting to see people I knew, and to hear more details of what was unfolding. I remember being really worried about Brandon. We were not dating at the time, but I couldn't help but be so worried about him. I kept trying to see him on the t.v. but I never did. While I was sitting there, the doorbell rang. It was him, coming to see if I was ok. I remember feeling so relieved as he scooped me up and gave me a huge hug. I was so worried about all of my friends. I probably called my really good friends KB, and BB's phone a dozen times trying to get ahold of them. I saw their car parked up by the elementary school and just assumed they had gotten out. As it turns out, their dad was driving their car, and they had been trapped in the choir room for hours.

We had to develop a new "normal" after that day. I remember not even being able to watch t.v. because everything seemed so fake. If someone would die or get hurt in a show, It would make me so mad, because I knew nothing was really wrong with them, and after filming they would just get to go back to their normal lives. When would I get to go back to my normal life?? Six months later my friend, AMH who I had seen right after she had been shot's mother committed suicide. It felt like I had to start all over from my healing. Everything was brought right to the surface again.

In the years that followed I became obsessed with finding out every detail that I could about what happened that day. I would search for hours on the Internet looking at every news story and website that I could find. I remember one day googling my name and finding the website that had all of the interviews, including mine, that were done with students in the weeks following the shooting.

When Alexis started school I struggled a lot. I researched many different schools. At the school where she went to Kindergarten, her classroom was the second one on the right, when you walked into the school. Every time I walked in, my heart would start to race, thinking how easy it would be for someone to walk right in her classroom and start shooting. Every morning when I drop Alexis off at school, no matter how stressful of a morning it has been. I always make sure I give her a kiss and tell her how much I love her. Then I take a mental picture of her, just in case it's the last time I see her.
My sister has mentioned in some of her posts, how when she goes somewhere she is constantly looking for an escape route. I do the same thing. For some reason movie theatres are especially hard. I am always looking at every person that walks in. I always feel so trapped there, like there would be no way out if something was to happen. Does it get easier as the years go by? Yes. But there are always those small things that happen that bring everything back like it was just yesterday.
Ten years has passed by so quickly. I feel very blessed to be here today. I found out months after the shootings, that the bomb that they had made and placed in the cafeteria was only a few tables over from where I was sitting. The only thing wrong with how they constructed it, was a faulty wire. Had it gone off as they had planned, I would not be here today. For that I am so grateful. I am so grateful for all of the small miracles from that day. I know if it wouldn't have been for our principal my sister would have walked right into the line of fire. That alone gives me good bumps every time I think about it. Many lives were forever changed, precious lives were lost that day. I want to pay tribute to them:

Cassie Bernall, Steve Curnow, Corey Depooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Daniel Rorbough, Rachel Scoot, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, Kyle Velasquez, and Coach Dave Sanders

"We Are Columbine"

Saturday, April 18, 2009


We had a good Easter this year. For FHE the week before, we had a lesson about the true meaning of Easter. I told the story of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, and the kids were so attentive and asked so many questions. I am glad that they are old enough to understand that Easter is more then just hunting for Easter eggs! They brought it up all week long. Tori in particular. She kept on asking me, when Ash was going to be resurrected. =)
On Easter morning the kids woke us up at 6:30. We have late church so we usually get to sleep in on Sundays, but not today! Here is the tradition waiting on the stairs picture. Notice they are still wearing their shirts from the day before? Lately they have decided that it's easier to just wear their clothes to bed. I at least make them put on their pajama bottoms, lol.
Here is Alexis reading the note from the Easter Bunny. In the background you can see our Blog Book sitting on the shelf. I finished it a few weeks ago and it just arrived in the mail. I love how it turned out!

Here are some more cute pictures of the kids looking for their baskets and Easter eggs.

It was nice to just relax and not feel ruched to get ready for church, since we don't have to go until 1:30. We actually had time to attempt to take a few pictures of the kids in their Easter clothes. They all picked out their own outfits this year. I tried to get Levi to wear a cute sweater vest outfit, but he wanted nothing to do with that. All he would get was a white shirt with a tie. He's growing up way too fast! =(

Right after church we headed over to my parent's house for a yummy Easter dinner. It was delicious. Happy late Easter to everyone!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cousin Fun

A few weeks ago, Brandon's sister, Summer drove up from Nevada with her kids to visit. It was so much fun to see them, and for our kids to be able to play together. We don't see them nearly enough! One of the days, Brandon, Summer and their dad went up skiing. I took the kids up to Nana's house so they could all play. It had just snowed pretty bad the day before, so the kids got all bundled up to play in the snow.

The girls of course had to make snow angels!

We brought Misty up, and everyone loved playing with her.

Nana was so nice to pull the kids up her long driveway in the sled and then run down with them.
Tori loved climbing up this little hill and sliding down on her sled.
We brought Levi and Sage in first, and got them some hot chocolate. They climbed right up next to each other to watch a movie. It was so cute. They are only a few months apart, so they had a lot of fun playing together throughout the week. Sage is such a cutie, and says the funniest things!

The next day we took the kids to a fun bouncy castle place that Kristalyn told us about. Kristalyn, David and the boys came too. It was so much fun! Tori has been asking every day when we get to go back.

The day before Easter we had our annual Easter egg hunt at Nana and Papa's. The kids had so much fun looking for eggs and playing together. We had a yummy dinner too. It was a fun filled week that doesn't happen nearly often enough!