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Praying for Chardon

I remember driving home from work on April 20, 1999 with tears streaming down my face. It was the first I’d heard of the Columbine shootings but not the first I’d felt of the grief a high school knows when students die. My route home from work drove me right past the local high school. The magnitude of the news mixed with the reality of high schools in crisis was almost too much for my soul to process. Thus, the tears that fell from my chin to my lap and collected in some unknown place deep down in the depths of my wounded heart, even ten years after I’d been there myself.

February, 1989 proved to be the most difficult month of my adolescent life. I still remember the dates of my friends’ suicides. Their funerals. I can picture the news stories. I can hear the cry in the school hallway of the popular high school wrestler when he was told about the second suicide, the day after the first one’s funeral. I remember leaving school early that day wondering what in the world life would be like without Angie, without the certainty of knowing I would see any one of my friends again the next day, the next week. I mean, two had fallen victim to the lies of suicide’s promise that nothing would ever improve. What was to keep two more from doing the same? Or ten more, for that matter? I remember watching the local newscast as my dad walked in from work that night. Images like I’d seen numerous times when someone had died, a blanket-covered body being loaded onto an ambulance, suddenly all-too real. I mean, I knew the girl whose body that was. She’d been my friend. My heart couldn’t handle the weightiness of the truth that my friend had not only died, but that she had jumped off a bridge for that very purpose. The day after her ex-boyfriend’s funeral. Her ex-boyfriend, Dave, who had killed himself with a gun just days before. I will never, ever forget my dad’s arms wrapping me right up as the newsman told the story, my tears wetting his nice shirt, tie and all, with the endless tears that poured from my grief. My heart will never forget the pain of those February weeks. My junior year in high school, when I learned what no 16-year-old should ever have to know.

That’s why I cried that April day in 1999. It’s why I cried Monday when I heard about five kids being shot, three dead, in Chardon, Ohio. I guess grief breeds compassion.

I think I was still grieving in 1999. I feel crazy admitting that. But, in all honesty, my first thought that day in April, 1999 was all about me. How badly I had hurt ten years before. How, as a 16-year-old who’d been to two funerals in less than one week, I didn’t know how to get out of bed the next day. How I endlessly re-played that conversation with Angie I’d had two days before she died. And, even though I was 26-years-old and married, I wanted my parents’ comfort. Because they’d been through it, too. Because my heart was still healing.

Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com images

I don’t really know how, but I can honestly say that God has now healed that gaping wound. The grief has become a deeper, more complete compassion. And I can truthfully say that God Himself is what first came to my mind this past Monday when I heard the news about Chardon High School.

Oh, God! Lord God! Please help those kids in that school!

I prayed all the way home that sunshiny day in April almost thirteen years ago. I prayed for Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’ families. I prayed for Cassie Bernall’s friends, her parents, her pastors. I prayed for the counselors that would no doubt flood the school for weeks, if not months, helping those kids walk the halls again, pointing them to the One Who wanted to help.

And now I will do the same for the people of Chardon, Ohio. I will pray for the secretaries, the principals, the parents who have to send their kids to school and hope they’ll be okay on Monday. I will pray for the janitors and the lunch ladies, who won’t serve any more pizza to Danny Parmertor or Russell King, Jr. or Demetrius Hewlin. I beg God to somehow bring life and hope and peace to the hallways of Chardon High School so that those students find unity and strength there rather than fear and dread.

But mostly I will pray for healing. And I will pray that for those students and those teachers and those families that God will bring it in His perfect time. And, make no mistake, I will again pray for Columbine.

2 Thoughts on “Praying for Chardon

  1. Linda on March 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm said:

    I share your feeling Bria..my thoughts often go back to the terrible year for you and all at school, the students, staff and parents of all, especially in weeks like the last week. The prayers and hearts of so many are with all of the people in Chardon, thanks for your heart felt words.

    Love ya,
    Mom

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