Two Teens And Their Mama: Help Me Understand

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Help Me Understand


It has been almost two weeks since the school shooting that stunned my small town. The support from around the state, the country, and the world has been amazing and so appreciated.  The initial shock has worn off, and we have begun the process of healing. Some questions have been answered, but many more remain.

Today I went to Marysville Pilchuck High School and spent some time looking at the huge memorial that has grown along the fence on the south side of the campus.  It stretches hundreds of feet down the road, with balloons, flowers and messages of support.  



Sadly, there have been many school shootings in this country in the last decade. However, this is the first one, to my knowledge, where the shooter has been memorialized alongside the victims. Up and down the fence are hundreds of posters, candles, and even some pumpkins carved for Halloween.  There are expressions of remembrance, sorrow and love - and there are just as many for the shooter as there are for the five victims.

I'm hoping that someone out there can help me understand.

Many rumors are flying around town, and I won't repeat them here.  But the facts are these: a young man, only fourteen years old, took his father's gun and brought it to school.  He texted many of his friends, and several cousins, and asked them to meet him in the cafeteria for lunch.  When they gathered, he shot them in the back of the head, before turning the gun on himself.  

We don't know why, and we may never know.  Obviously he was deeply troubled, and there were issues going on that may not have come forth until that horrible day.  I do have sympathy for him, and for his family who are not only mourning the loss of their son, but also feeling the crushing weight of his actions.

Things have been very pc here in Marysville, and everyone is tip toeing around this truth. But I'm just going to say it, even though the word is harsh, and I'm sure there are those who will be upset with me - he is a murderer.  And I'm having such a hard time wrapping my head around the outpouring of love for him.  Rather than single him out as the perpetrator of this horrible act, many students and adults alike are praising him as the "popular homecoming prince" who will be missed for his friendliness and ready smile.



I'm tired of it, and I'm angry.  What about the four young people who will never grow up, who will never get to go to college, or get married and have children of their own?  What about their parents and siblings, who have lost a part of their heart forever?  That's where I want to focus my love and support.

After much thought, I can only come up with one explanation.  Kids can be very black and white, and they know from an early age that there are good guys and bad guys in the world. If you stay away from the bad guys you'll be safe.  Right now the kids in my community don't feel safe, and to cope, they have to believe that the shooter was a good guy who made a mistake.  Because what's the alternative?  The next bad guy might be your best friend, sitting next to you at lunch, and that's too much to bear.

I know there are others in my community who believe the same way I do, but they don't want to admit how they feel and appear unsupportive.  I fear that one day soon all of this anger is going to bubble to the surface - or worse yet, get pushed down so far that it doesn't come out for years.


If you want to yell at me, I can take it.  But I welcome everyone's thoughts, and maybe, it will help me understand.

32 comments:

  1. I have been awful at keeping up at blog reading lately, so I'm just catching up. First, I am so sorry that this has happened-I can't even imagine. I went back at started at the post on the day off and read forward to this one. I have a very hard time having him remembered as less than a murderer. I hope we find out the reason for his actions, so something can be done to prevent them in the future. As a teacher kids walk around with all this "stuff" did no one see him for me than a King and miss his "stuff?????" What a heartbreaking, awful situation. I'm praying for you, your family, and your community.

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    1. I agree, it seems with mental illness that we're missing the "stuff". I really feel that's where we need to start.

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  2. I don't know if anyone will ever be able to understand why this awful tragedy happened. I do agree that kids think in black and white and that could be why they are memorializing the perpetrator. My heart goes out to your family and your community.

    Jill
    www.dousedinpink.com

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    1. Thanks Jill. You're right - we will probably never really understand.

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  3. I get so annoyed how everything in the world is basically covered up - (PC) to sugar-coat everything. I like the facts and the truth and you are right. Yeah it's sad that it came to this, but my hunch is, there had to be signs, that this young man had issues. Many prayers for all involved. Very sad.

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    1. Some of the rumors have had to do with the "signs". You're right - something was not right.

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  4. My heart just aches for the young people in your community. This tragedy will haunt them for years, if not forever. Trust has been shattered. And trust is a very hard thing to rebuild. Like old Humpty Dumpty, it just can't be put back together again. I'd like to blame violent games, shattered families and simply having too much. But the real reasons died with this troubled young man. And the rest of his acquaintances will just have to live with it. Forever. A true and lasting tragedy.

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    1. It's been two weeks, and every day I still remember the look on my son's face when he found out about this - so heartbreaking. It's just so sad.

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  5. I live in the Columbine school district and I am so sorry for what your community is going through. {{{Lana}}}

    Maybe what's going on is that the shooter was not 100% bad guy. Maybe they are mourning the loss of who he was (or how he was seen to be) prior to that fateful day -- a basically good guy.

    Doubtless there will be several stages of healing for your community. I do hope that as things come full circle, that the anger and hurt and pain and loss can eventually give way to forgiveness and healing. But it does take time. Maybe this step of including the shooter in the remembrances is like stating and intention: we WILL heal.

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    1. I think you are right. This young man was a friend to many, and they are remembering that right now.

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  6. This is horrific and I can't say anything to help you understand it. I don't understand it, either. It is so sad from EVERY angle.

    I wish you peace..I hope that for all people.

    We need to do more the mentally ill in this country. We so much do.

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    1. We definitely need to start with helping the mentally ill.

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  7. I didn't even know those details.. were they in the news? It's possible I haven't read enough.
    It seems like maybe they were still thinking of the hurting boy and his family. I wouldn't personally do that, given those details.

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    1. Bits and pieces have come out - and we may have a little more info locally than you are getting on the national news.

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  8. The idea that kids don't feel safe breaks my heart in so many ways.

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  9. You are absolutely right that this was a horrible act and that the kid who committed it is a murderer. It is entirely appropriate to feel angry at him. But while I, like you, fear that the kids memorializing him are burying that anger, I am also glad to see that people are looking at this kid with compassion. So often when these terrible events occur, the person who did it gets vilified and the family members are left without support in their time of grief. I think you're right to recognize and write about your angry feelings. That's part of the grieving process and without it, you're not able to truly forgive - and I do hope you'll get to that point. Is it fair that because the kid who committed the act was popular, he gets a memorial? No. But maybe, just maybe this is a first step toward the kind of healing that will ultimately prevent these kinds of tragedies.

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    1. I know you are right, and I appreciate your comments - they are very helpful. I hope I can get to a place of forgiveness.

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  10. I feel so bad for your community.It is so disturbing. A 14 year old boy doesn't know anything about life and certainly not about consequences!

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  11. What a horrific tragedy. So many emotions to sort out in the aftermath. I have wondered if perhaps the shooter experienced some sort of psychotic break - perhaps the first manifestation of a mental illness? It is unthinkable that he was mentally stable.
    Insane or not, however, you are right - his act was murder. But, it sounds like the boy the kids knew before that act seemed to be a different person than a killer. When you are up close in a situation, and that person had been your friend, it is probably hard to even put the two sides of the situation together.
    I imagine it is possible to mourn the loss of a person, and still hate them for what they did. I think you may be right - it would be hard to think of someone who had been your friend as a killer - when they showed no more signs of what was to come than anyone else you are friends with.
    My heart goes out to everyone affected.

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    1. Susan, you are so right - about mourning the loss of a friend even though you are angry with their actions. I think that is what's happening here. The kids can't reconcile the boy they knew with his actions.

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  12. I don't know what to say...well maybe I do i find it hard that the kids are memorializing this boy and yet they are showing an ounce of empathy as well - on so many levels so much is going on they are dealing with loss, they are dealing with questions (which they might have an answer that is OK with them) and they are dealing with exposure - their school is now on the map...
    i'm with you he is a murderer - although we as emphatic beings pray for him - he shouldn't idolized (well it shouldn't get to that point) because my fear with these types of shooting is that we will get too used to them.
    we need to resolve this quickly- and practicing lock down procedures every month or more is not the solution.

    I believe with any kind of violence - we should have zero tolerance

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    1. I agree - zero tolerance. I fear the copycats out there, who see everyone idolizing this boy.

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  13. I am of a different mind on this and it won't be very popular I'm afraid. I do agree with Lana and it makes me angry too! I feel that people are saying how he "was" but isn't that the definition of a Sociopath someone that can make other people see only the good while doing completely evil things? I bet there have been other times in his life that have been overlooked or glossed over where this side has come through. I don't understand this theory of he just made a mistake. He didn't just make a mistake he stole his father's gun, lured these innocent children to the lunchroom and systematically killed each and every one of them before cowardly taking his own life. We have to start paying attention to these kids, we have to watch them for early signs if we ever want this to stop. People need to pay attention if little comments and actions are overlooked they become big actions that can't be taken back. This kid was evil and I don't care who likes it. I just don't understand and while I am not there in that community I am angry that this is going on. What kind of message is this showing our youth that things like premeditated murder can be overlooked if your the prom king or whatever. That's ludicrous! Oh this has me riled up! These children that survived are traumatized, they are scared and dont' know how to feel. We have to show them, teach them how wrong this is and isn't it sending them a mixed message that yeah it's bad but hey he's the homecoming King it can't be that bad...sorry I'm calling a spade a spade it's bs pure and simple. I also am of the theory that if you want to be a gun owner fine. I have my own shotgun next to my bed but when there are kids, children, babies, teenagers you put those guns in places where that child cannot get to them. They should be locked up and if things like this happen it is partially their the gun owners responsibility and liability. They should be charged as an accomplice. If parents don't get smarter about their firearms this will never change. Charges should be filed and they should no longer be allowed to keep a gun period. I know, I know people will say what about the 2nd amendment. I'm not saying not to own a gun but I am saying as a gun owner you have to accept responsibility for that gun good or bad. If he had access to be able to steal it then that's on the parents. Every shooter gets a gun from somewhere! Sorry rant here!

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    1. Rena, we think so much alike! I know the shooter was also a child, but he had no right to kill those other students. I agree that his parents should be held accountable for allowing him access to the gun. We also have guns, but they are locked in a gun safe and even now our boys don't have the code to get in.

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  14. I don't think it's up to you (or me or anyone) to do the judging or to try to figure out something that just has no answers.It was a horrible tragedy. All I feel anyone should and can do is send their heartfelt thoughts to those involved. Let them work through it in the ways they see fit.

    As someone who has a schizophrenic uncle and an autistic brother with severe learning disabilities, I am so over people sticking the 'evil' label on everyone. Maybe the kid was evil. Maybe he wasn't. Given his reputation, something snapped. Mental illness is real. Mental breakdowns are real. It does not excuse what he did. It does not make it better, but there are some things that are just not up to us as imperfect human beings to answer. This is one of them.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Just for the record, I didn't label him evil in my post. I also have mental illness in my family, and I feel it is extremely under treated in this country. This was actually part of my point - obviously this young man had mental illness, but that part is being pushed under the rug and not discussed. The kids are basically hearing that he was just having a bad day. And it's so much more than that.

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  15. I don't think you will ever completely understand. I do think that you yourself are going through the stages of grief. Also remember that these kids are trying to understand something that even most adults cannot understand. If a child has cancer the community rallies. If a child acts out the community says handle your child. If a child suffers from mental illness, many if not most turn away, run away or judge. There is not much if any community coming together. He chose the wrong action here, for sure. Many before him have chosen the correct action for what ever he was going through, and therefore are not in prison or the morgue. Mental illness is rough, and needs understanding, kindness, and HELP.

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    1. I agree 100% - mental illness is an ILLNESS. But we don't treat it properly in this country. I have several family members who suffer from various forms of mental illness, and I completely agree with you. I'm just so sorry this young man didn't get any HELP, and that the kids of this community aren't being allowed to discuss that aspect of the situation. It's all very hush hush and pc.

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