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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Once again, we are helpless against the grief of others


This is the photo my paper ran on the day after the massacre at Columbine—April 20, 1999, eight years ago tomorrow.

So what is it about the third week of April? Ruby Ridge, Oklahoma City, Hitler's birthday, Columbine Massacre, and now Virginia Tech.

Once again, some lunatic male has gone nuts with a gun and committed mass murder as a prelude to suicide. For me, as a journalist who covered Columbine in 1999, the shootings at Virginia Tech were deja vu. As soon as I heard about it, I knew what the scene would look like—people in shock, police and media everywhere, relatives and friends in tears, candlelight vigils.

When the Columbine shootings occurred, I was at work, sitting at my desk, and the news came across the television behind me. (Trivia tidbit: Newspapers rely heavily on TV news stations, and most papers have a "secret alliance" with a particular paper. Ours didn't, but we did keep a TV on all the time.) Within two minutes we were on it.

I worked three days non-stop more or less. Then on the third day, I just lost it and cried my eyes out. It was the anguish of the parents who'd lost children that broke my heart. I heard stories that didn't necessarily make the news, and I felt what I imagine everyone felt and what so many of us feel any time one of these horrendous catastrophes occurs: I wanted to do something to take away the pain of parents. And, of course, there is nothing you can do. At one point I remember throwing the photos of the two shooters onto a faraway desk because their faces were really getting to me. One of my reporters left journalism shortly after Columbine. She was so traumatized by it, she couldn't do journalism any longer.

So this time we didn't cover the story directly; we're in Colorado, not Virginia. We did run some wire op-eds about it. But what I kept seeing in my mind, even though I watched very little coverage, was the parents' grief. I must admit, too, to some disgust about how the whole incident was handled, though I can see how the police would have assumed the shooting was over. Generally rampages don't involve two-hour recesses.

I'm so sorry. And that's all I know how to say.

Other things that happened this week:

One of my favorite all-time journalists and a very good friend left the paper this week to follow dreams elsewhere. I cried. And cried. And sent myself flowers. We took him out for sashimi (sorry Ronlyn!) and then after work headed over to the local brew pub for a few pints and to relive favorite memories. It was so bittersweet. I was on the email with him by 9 this morning. Live free and write strong, Vince.

I gave up coffee for four days and I had a migraine every day. Having gotten precisely four hours of sleep last night, I said, "To bloody hell with this," and hit Caffe Solé, my fave coffee shop, for a triple vanilla latte. Coffee never tasted so good.



We're smack-dab in the middle of our biggest paper of the year, our annual Best of Boulder edition. Best taco? Best pizza? Best hardward store? Best reason to drink frigging hemlock?!?! I always swear I'll be rich or dead before the next B.O.B. edition. So far I've failed at both. I will be having convulsions and bleeding from the ears by next Thursday. It's going to be 120 pages.

My son's GF began her internship as a photographer at the paper. She knocked on the door during a staff meeting and said, "I just wanted to give you a hug." So I gave her a big hug, then said to the staff, "I always form a close relationship with our photo intern." Which she thought was hilarious and which the new person didn't understand at all, of course -- which is exactly what made it funny.

Sorry, no fiction updates in this post. Not even time to think of Marc and Sophie.

Deneice, welcome. I hope you'll come back again and post with us.

6 comments:

Aimee said...

I was devastated to hear about VT. I just can't comprehend what goes through the minds of the people who commit these horrendous crimes. I don't understand their need to kill innocents before they can take their own lives. I guess that is what makes it so awful isn't it? That there is no way a 'normal' person can wrap their mind around such sickness.

I'm sorry you had a friend move on, it's never easy when that happens :( I hope you'll still stay in contact though, and keep the friendship alive.

I miss you!

Ronlyn said...

Oh sweetie. This week has been a sort of chaos in my life as well with trying to help those who are having trouble dealing with tthe shooting. (For me a more deja vu of 9/11 since I was in the mental health field then, but still in college during Columbine.) Trying to explain to my 3 year old (who came to the office w/ Daddy to bring me a cup of coffee...so sweet) that 'that lady' is sad because someone else hurt a bunch of people. *sigh* I have no understanding of the best way to deal with these things. Never to forget, but to forgive and move on? Forgivness is tough.
And, WTH were you thinking giving up coffee in the midst of all this?? LOL...damn girl. Next time you think you need to give up coffee you call me, I'll talk you out of it and save you the migraines. ;)
FWIW, I LOVE our paper's B.O. edition. It's always so fun.
I'm so sorry your friend has moved on to follow dreams, you're right it's always such a bitter sweet event to watch friends move on. (And you're forgiven for taking him out for sushi...and then telling me about it. LOL My DH has been made aware though that I WILL require a sushi run after having this baby: possibly while I'm still hospitalized.)
I'd better run and finish getting ready for work.
(((((hugs))))

Sheila said...

TGIF girl! I am so sorry you had such a rough week! (((HUGS)))! You should go out and have a drink or two or three! I agree with Ronlyn, this was not the week to give up coffee.

I am also sorry to hear about your friend leaving. I know we don't really know each other well, but I understand the feeling. My husband is military and we leave friends every three to five years, or friends leave us. We don't ever say goo-bye, we just tell them we'll see them at the next base. One of the reasons I am so glad you and the RBL girls allowed me to be part of your group is I can take ya'll with me no matter where I go!

Have a great weekend and I'll have a drink or two for ya!

Rosie said...

Hey girl, this has been one helluva a week, eh? The sadness just follows you around just like past tragedies (i.e., Columbine, 9/11).

I'm sorry to hear that your friend has decided to move on. I know she is doing it for happiness, but it is still hard losing someone close to you. Hopefully, she will still be just a phone call away!

Glad to hear you broke down and had that coffee. Girl, you can't go cold turkey on caffeine and not get a headache (that's the mama in me preaching, LOL). And that coffee sure looks good!!

Take care and good luck getting through the Best of edition of your paper!

Hugs!

Debbie H said...

Hi, tagging along at the end. I couldn't watch the news at all. Everytime I did I just cried because there wasn't anything I could do.

I can't believe Vince is gone. I hope he really enjoys what he will be doing. Life is too short not to do what you love.

I agree with everyone, don't stop the coffee cold turkey. Besides, a little everyday is probably good for you.

Take care of yourself during this crazy stressful time, O.K.?

Aimee, I don't understand why these maniacs can't just be happy with killing themselves. That's bad enough. But they don't need to take others with them. It is beyond comprehnsion to most of us. Our minds want grasp at ways to save others in an emergency; we can't conceive of actively trying to eradicate people.

I'm sorry he left too. He's still in town -- about five minutes down the road by car. LOL! But I am going to miss working with him. He's one of the best.

I miss you, too.

Ronlyn, I hope you get lots of rest. Dealing with other people's emotional trauma must be hard on you. And explaining this to children is so painful. You can see their innocence fade a little as their minds realize, bit by bit, how dark the world can be. Thanks for telling me that you like the BO edition of your paper; I'm hating this one. It's proving to be lots of extra work for reasons I can't go into in this space. And thanks for your sympathy and good wishes. I will see my friend again. It's just hard not to have him there to depend on every day.

Shiela, I like the way you think. TGIF for sure. I just had a glass of (not so great) pinot grigio. Did not like the finish on this wine. Oh, well. I'll drink it anyway. LOL!

And (((HUGS))) on all the moving. I hate nothing more than saying goodbye. My travels in Europe taught me to dread that moment. And you're right, it's hard to stay in touch. Eventually it's just Christmas cards and "remember when." (I saw your post on the board.) But we're always here. Hell, I don't think I've moved from in front of this computer screen for five years...

Hi, Rosie! We've had so many of these tragedies, it seems. I'm really sick of them. I would like people to send their kids to school/college and feel safe. And thanks for the preaching. I had another latte today. Salvation! And, big surprise, no migraine either.

Hi, Debbie. I can't believe he's gone either. It's definitely making this week a lot harder than it would have been. And I can't shout, "Darcangelo!" from my desk anymore. Or "V-man!" Or "Hey, V!" And there's no one to do my math problems (percentages, etc. for articles). Waaaah!

And, thanks, I will try to take care of me. Got my hair done today. Thought I'd go a bit lighter. Now I look like a porn queen. I think I truly look terrible! I wish Libby were here to lie to me and say, "Um, no, you, uh... you, well, you look, um, good. Yeah."

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