Today marks the anniversary of the shooting at the High School. It has been many years since it occurred but I can’t help thinking of all the lives that were affected on that day. This year I have been thinking mostly of those who lost a loved one on this day. Though I did not know Jason well myself I know many who did. I know that he was a friend, a brother and a son, and that he was loved and is missed. Today I am thinking of those people who have missed Jason for all these many years and hoping that they have love and comfort on this day.
The rest of this post was actually written a year ago. I had written it originally as a note on facebook. It is essentially part of the birth of my blog so It belongs here.
Life is an interesting journey. Today I find myself reflecting back to a day in my life that has greatly impacted me as an individual. On April 28 1999 a young man entered the High School I attended and fired four shots into a hall I was walking down. I was walking 10-15ft behind three boys that had been shot at. They hit the floor and I stopped and stood in shock for a bit trying to figure out what was going on, was this real? Soon it was evident that this wasn’t some prank or skit this was in fact happening. In our small town, in our School this tragedy was unfolding.
Once the realization of the danger I was in hit me I quickly hid myself behind a corner, I stood wondering what to do, did the shooter see me? was he going to follow me? I then decided to run down a long hall leading to the Jr. High and there tucked myself into the doorway of a classroom. I stood there shaking by the door not wanting to enter and cause panic and fear among the students. Soon the teacher came out to see what was wrong, after relaying to her my account and desires to go back and help the boys who had been shot at, she decided to take me down to the Jr. High office to see if it was safe for me to return to my class. It wasn’t long after we got to the office that the entire High school and Jr. High were put into lock down. Soon images I had seen on the news of the Columbine shooting, that had happened only a week prior, started going through my head. I wondered if my brother would be safe. I looked for things that seemed out of place or that didn’t make sense in hopes that it was all just a dream. At some point I was informed that no one else had been harmed and that they had the shooter in custody. I don’t remember how long we were in lock down, it seemed like hours. Once the lock down was over a councilor escorted me outside and informed me that I would have to give a statement to the R.C.M.P. As she walked me down the side walk I looked up and saw my mom. She came running to me, there was a look in her eyes I will never forget, it was almost as if she knew everything, what had happened and what a trial it would be to work through the aftermath. To look in her eyes was to look into true grief. Things kind of blur together after that but I clearly remember sitting in my living room and my mom telling me that one of the boys who had been shot died and one was in serious condition. It is one of those days that you never forget, even if you want to.
This year as I reflect back on this tragedy that occurred I feel the same feelings of sorrow as I always do but over the last couple of years I have noticed something strange, I have also been feeling JOY and a feeling of wholeness. There have been many people who have helped and supported me, good friends, a loving family, and a patient husband. There is however one significant event that took place just over two years ago that has greatly impacted my ability to feel that joy and wholeness, put quite simply that event was “All Shook Up”. The explanation is a little more complex.
In the Winter of 2008 my husband and I moved our family from Lethbridge to Taber. It was a move we were both reluctant to make but felt good about. Shortly after moving I received a phone call, from the director of a musical that the High School would be performing, requesting me to Choreograph the show. I quickly committed to the endeavor and looked forward to the task, until I came to the realization that this would require me to go back into the High School and walk down the halls where dark unwanted memories lurked. Not being one to back down from a commitment I pushed myself. It wasn’t easy. I often felt nauseous and on edge when I first began working in the High School, but a funny thing happened. I truly started to look forward to going into the school, I enjoyed working with the bright promising teenagers that I at first didn’t trust. Soon I found myself in the school, on the 10th anniversary of the shooting, laughing and having a good time. I took a moment to reflect on that April 28th, as I always do, and I felt JOY. Joy that I was in the school, joy that I was surrounded by wonderful people, joy that we were creating something to brighten and entertain people, Joy that through fear and pain I continued to live my life and love it.
I watched the news that evening. A reporter stood outside the school and commented on how on the 10th anniversary of the shooting the school was doing nothing to mark what had happened on that day. Really they missed the real story, the story of how we took a day that was marked by sorrow and destruction and used it to create something that would hopefully bring joy to many as it already had to me. The story of how a bunch of teenagers helped me overcome pain and fear just by being themselves and letting me teach them. To those “All Shook Up” kids I say thank-you for giving me joy. And to anyone who cares, this is why I devote so much time volunteering in the theater in Taber, because this is what it did for me and I want to help bring joy to others.