Today, at the high school a mile from my house, there was a school shooting. I drove by the school on my way home a few hours later and I could feel death hanging in the air. It feels like a heavy dark curtain, so thick in the air, your throat closes up.
Right before the shooting, the shooter posted his final status on his Facebook page. It reads:
“Everybody that used to know me, I’m sorry, but Omaha changed me and fucked me up and the school I now attend is even worse. You are going to hear about the evil shit I did, but that fucking school drove me to this. I want you guys to remember me for who I was before this. I know I greatly affected the lives of the families I ruined, but I’m sorry. Goodbye.”
I have never been so troubled by a tiny word as I am by his “but”s scattered throughout his apology/goodbye. “But” is a word used as an excuse. It is reasoning away actions rather than taking responsibility for them. How can you apologize to the families of people you are about to shoot? An apology is an expression of regret. If you were sorry before doing it, you shouldn’t have done it.
He pleaded for people to remember him for who he was before this. People remember you for what you did in your life. Certain actions hold more weight in people’s memories than others. And a school shooting holds more weight than anything else, one can be sure. We only get one chance at life: no do-overs allowed. We live by our choices and die by our mistakes.