It was six years ago today
4.20.99: I was at my computer working on something – who knows what. I was a Sr. Employee Communications Manager at US West in Denver, so when Joe Lopez, sitting right next to me, says “hey, Sammy, there’s been a shooting at a high school in Littleton,” my stomach twisted. We had a major facility in Littleton, so we were automatically talking about USW families.
I told him to get everything he could on it, and headed down the hall. I had to interrupt a meeting to notify our VP. I recall her being annoyed with me, because I don’t think she immediately realized what the import was. Then I think I headed around the corner to let our media relations team know. That’s about the last detail I remember clearly from work that day, although I know more or less what we did as the story unfolded.
I visited Columbine High School and Clement Park twice in the week after the shooting and wrote about about what I saw. That piece remains one of the most humbling reminders of how limited we writers really are, because I know what I wrote and I know what a poor job it does of fully expressing what I felt, what I still feel.
For the record, Columbine still hurts. Even now, six years on, I can barely think about it without having to fight back tears….
it is strange how this will always be in the forefront for me on april 20. it has superceded all other events, and will always be the first thing i think of, just as the bombing in oklahoma city will forever be the first thing i think of on april 19. this post reminds me of that day, being at work at the bookstore, and getting the call from my mother about “a sniper” at my old highschool. then the days and months of coverage, seeing my former choir director on tv looking old and worn and shocked, seeing endless footage of mr. saunders, the boy hanging out of the window, driving down to see my parents and seeing the boarded up windows and police tape surrounding where i spent 3 of my formative years…. so much more. i went once to the school, a few days after the shootings. it was snowing and raining, which seemed so cliche and yet completely right. there were so many people there, people who had children in school, and people who had nothing to do with the area at all but felt the need to be there. i remember not being able to stop the tears.
and now i feel i am stepping right over the line of maudlin’, so i will stop now.
thanks for this post, and for the original entry you wrote back then.
I can’t even imagine what it would have done to me had I actually had some ties to the school. My only tie was “lived in Denver,” and yet it affected me as though the victims had been my own family.
I think that was the moment I knew that Colorado had become home for me…..
Wow. I am so sorry.