Today as I drank my morning coffee with toast I watched and listened to the Doctor Oz show, which like other daytime programs has deviated from the original format of doling out medical advice, to joining the ranks of talk show hosts as Rachel Ray has also gone from strictly cooking every day to bringing on entertaining guests. Normally it is simply my preference to watch the news and then go on with my day.
What made today different was the woman Dr. Oz was talking with, Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the two young men, Dylan Klebold, who with his friend, Eric Harris, gained infamy by conducting the first school massacre in this country. Ms. Klebold has written a book called A Mother’s Reckoning about her experience and perspective since that tragic event, and all of her share of any profits will be going toward improving mental health.
I remember thinking at the time of that terrible event that both of those boys looked so normal and clean cut and yet they committed such an atrocity. It was not the youngsters covered with tattoos, body piercings, wearing only black clothing and bizarre hairstyles and who frequented wildly loud rock concerts who were acting out their aggressions.
My own son was/is a very angry young man, traumatized, I believe, from growing up without a father in our home as well as that I transplanted us from the cosmopolitan Chicago area to a small community in Ohio where I, as a fourth generation middle European descendent fit right in but he and his sister who are half Japanese, did not fit in so well and both suffered indignant name-calling and less than Christian treatment by other school children in this heavily ethnic town with a high population of assorted faith based residents.
The level of anger that drove my son spilled out at home by some destructive behavior in which he broke such things as one large Farberware frying pan and for which he did make restitution by buying a replacement for it. I remember that in one of our shouting matches I suggested loudly that he channel his anger into something CONstructive, NOT DEStructive. Thankfully he has done that by his work as a Social Justice advocate and activist. Though I am thoroughly disappointed that his direction has pulled him to turn his back on me and all of my family, I am grateful that he works to help marginal people, firstly through the Catholic Worker’s House (which is interesting since as a teenager he blamed the Catholic Church for all that he didn’t like in his life) in Illinois and Iowa, where he spent three years as an intern and serving on their Board and learning in a hands on way about organic farming, to volunteering to spray the flooded out homes in New Orleans after Katrina. He wore a hazmat suit and did two terms of that service. He has also walked along the border between California and Mexico carrying water and food to leave in order to keep the immigrants who were walking there from dying as they made their way along the very hot dry terrain.
Since I pray daily for both of my children, I just have to have faith that God does work in strange ways and while it is a mystery to me, I can only hope for the best. It was with a great amount of empathy and at least a small amount of understanding that I listened to the heartbreak in Ms. Klebold’s story.