I watched with morbid anticipation last Friday night, as you were interviewed by Diane Sawyer. My heart went out to you as you displayed the anguish of a mother whose son had died in the most tragic of circumstances. I cried for all of the victims, including Dylan and Eric. Your courage and honesty gave me the inspiration for this letter that I write to you today. So many things you described could have been my own son. He was hurt at the tender age of thirteen by adults in our church and at his school! He was also bullied by a certain group of his peers. He was hardest on himself when it came to girls although he was popular and seemed to be liked by all who knew him. I think there were some who acted out of jealousy. I cringed at many of the things you told because there but for the grace of God, Dylan could have been any woman’s son. Could any of us have known? Only those who have never experienced such would dare to say what they would have done. Although, I cannot imagine the additional sorrow you have suffered because of the Columbine deaths, I am writing this from my personal standpoint of a mother whose son had similar tendencies and depression; the outcome of which was the loss of my child.
I understood when you said you did not see any of “it coming” and that you thought Dylan’s change in behavior and mood was more about his age and teen angst. This is exactly how I saw my own son’s behavior. Over night he became another person. It would seem that hormones had wrecked the sweet innocence of my child. He preferred to stay in his room for hours listening to music, sullen and depressed, writing sad poems and drawing angry violent pictures, and I thought that he was going through a normal part of growing up. He, too, had a “friend” up until his final breath who was no good for him. A boy who was a bad influence, who saw all that my son struggled with and cheered him on in a most negative sense. He was there on that final night…that final act. Some things we will never know. Who pulled the trigger? Or who may have encouraged such an act? Sadly, you know all too well the actions of a son who was deeply depressed, hurt, and filled with an inexplicable rage. People are very cruel and our sons felt the darts and daggers from a careless and cruel society. I did seek the counsel of a child psychologist for my son and perhaps it helped him through those tender teen years, but as the end result would clearly tell….what long term good did it do when fighting against a ticking time bomb that would explode when the right situation called for it. Chemical imbalance or other brain defects have no regard for human life as our sons, each in his own time, would find out. Countless have been in that number of what is often too late.
You described those mother son moments that I also experienced. A son who was always willing to please and was respectful and kind. A genuine love. I could hardly believe that he would or could ever do anything to harm himself…or others. Or to abandon me in such a tragic way, leaving me numb yet filled with a relentless pain that knows no bounds. How could love fail each of us in every possible way that we could ever conceive such actions?
I admire your bravery that only time could have gifted, Mrs. Klebold. For you to have written too soon would have omitted the revelations that come in time. To have waited too late would have seemed callous and indifferent, perhaps. The interview was needed for many who have been victims, including those children like our sons. And some would disagree that they were ever victims but then they just don’t know, do they? Too many people are unforgiving and judgmental in this world. It would be those kind of people that turned on our sons long before they ever thought to leave. It is those kind of people who call them “selfish” or “evil.”
If only people would take the time to know that their brothers and sisters are sometimes born to be delicate beings, unfurling their fragile petals in a harsh winter that never seems to warm them into a season of kindness and love. Those tragic beings cannot thrive even under the wings of mothers who care for and love them. Their only host in this world seems to be the disease that has taken them inside themselves where they foster their own misunderstanding of what love is or isn’t, who should love them or who should not.
You mentioned another son who was going through drug problems at the same time when possibly you were distracted from Dylan’s goings and comings. I, too, had a child who was going through a divorce and had to be hospitalized a few months before my son died. I had no idea just how much worse life was going to become.
You were asked if you believe in evil and your answer was “no.” While I believe there truly is good and evil, I will not believe that the disease of depression and mental illness is no more evil than cancer, diabetes, MS, blindness, etc….Sadly, mental illness or brain disease is about behavior and damaged emotions. Evil has been since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. I will not try to define it here but I will say with a definitive conclusion that we are all born with sinful natures that keep us apart from God except through our acceptance of a Messiah, who is Jesus Christ. He is love. He is forgiveness.
You have expressed regret and guilt for all that Dylan did that day. I would hope that one day that all of those who have been affected will forgive both Dylan and you, for whatever reason they think made you “guilty.” But, most of all, I hope you can forgive yourself. We are still trying to cope with our part in all of this , learning how to forgive ourselves about “not knowing” or our part in passing along a mutated gene or, or, or…etc… If society will come to an understanding about mental illness and all that it presents to its victims, then maybe there is hope for never having to ask for or accept forgiveness for something that was never in our control.
I hope your life continues on the path of learning to cope. So much as been destroyed. As for me, that is how it must be…learning to cope, because to me the real healing will only come when I am reunited with my son. I applaud you for donating the proceeds from the sale of your book to help those with mental illness and to bring a better understanding of a most horrible disease to an unforgiving world. God’s peace to you always, Mrs. Klebold.
In memory of our sons….
Dale, Brandon’s Mom