Last month, I had the honor and privilege of hearing Sue Klebold speak at Mental Health America’s annual conference. (And if that has you now thinking “Wait, who is Sue Klebold?” don’t worry; I’ll help you out.) You see, Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the young men who — along with Eric Harris — was responsible for the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. A shooting which took the lives of 15 individuals, including Eric and Dylan. And while many may wonder why I would refer to meeting Ms. Klebold — the mother of a seemingly cold-blooded killer — as a privilege, it is because she is a woman and a mother who has overcome incredible and devastating odds. It is because she is a woman and a mother who is using her voice to make a difference. It is because she is a woman and a mother who has become a great advocate for mental health. And it is because she is a woman and a mother who has suffered a loss few of us can imagine.
Ms. Klebold didn’t just lose her son that day in April, 17 years ago; she lost the image of a boy she thought she knew, and she lost her future.
And as Ms. Klebold spoke that night I saw her — about her son, the many victims, the state of her town and school after Columbine, murder/suicide, and mental illness — hundreds of attendees sat silent and still for 40 minutes. We were all captivated by her story, and pulled into “her world” (at least for a few moments).
But there was one thing she said in particular that struck me. One simple moment she shared that I could not shake.
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