Tag Archives: Thurston High School Shooting

Living Between Life and Death: A Tribute to Uncle Hal


Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. -Brené Brown

Today I gave a message at the Eugene Mennonite Church and below here is the take away.

I would like each of you to consider if you only had 6 days left on Earth, like Uncle Hal had from the day he admitted on hospice – are you living the life you want to be living? Do those you love and cherish know how you define a good death -for an instance do you want to die at home, amongst family or friends? And, are you in pain? How are you sharing your pain with others? Please do not suffer alone.
I leave you with this…
Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.



Anniversary Reactions

I’ve been trying not to pay attention to the news about Oklahoma’s tornadoes and death; as I feel the pain of the Boston bombings and my own physical reaction to bomb threats on the day of graduation at USC in Los Angeles last week. And then yesterday a friend pointed out that we’ve now passed 15 years since the Thurston High School Shooting (you can see photo and previous post here).  15 years ago.

I spoke with another woman who just over a month ago lost her home, kitties, and belongings to a fire and as I was describing a video of an Oklahoma woman and her dog coming out of the rubble; she explained to me she can’t watch the news at all.  It is just too close to home.  I’d mentioned I’d just found out about it being 15 years since the Thurston shooting and as I stood there staring out the rainy window I could feel her pain, the pain of our community, and our hearts hurting for those in Oklahoma.  The sadness worldwide.  As I left her I said something like, I guess what I’ve learned from my past experiences, is that our community does pull through and generosity overflows.  And so I hang on to that.

I’ve studied anniversary reactions to community tragedies.  Our bodies and minds, often still hold those memories clearly.  And when tragedy strikes again, often we find ourselves back in that space remembering our own terror, sadness, confusion and then we have empathy for others.  The pain connects us as humans; as well as the hope.  So I leave you with my image of hope.  IMGP3815

Silence Remembering

ImageToday I was deeply saddened when I came home for lunch and found out that 20 children and 8 adults had lost their lives today in Connecticut.  Oregon had already been hit by deaths earlier this week when another young man opened fire at a mall in Portland.  Reminding me of the Thurston High School shooting in 1998, where I graduated the previous year, the Virginia Tech shooting, the Colorado shooting, the shooting in Arkansas…..the list sadly goes on.  I read words by Colin Goddard who I was honored to meet and photograph, a survivor at Virginia Tech who now works for The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  So many lives have ended too soon.  I sat here thinking….we are so much better than this.

I’ve been looking for a photo to illustrate this quote that was in our bulletin last Sunday at the Eugene Mennonite Church.  Today, it seems fitting and I wish for this peace in time for the families who lost their children today.  Knowing their lives have been overturned.

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty in the water, and the great heron feeds.  I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.  And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.  For a time I rest in the grade of the world, and am free.”  -Wendell Berry

In Springfield we had a moment of hail today, as I looked in to the sky full of day-blind stars, I then looked down to find these hail pebbles still sitting on the ground and had my moment of peace.Image

Reflections on Thurston High School Shooting

Today’s photo is from May 1998. I’m promoting a blog I wrote for The Prevention Researcher, where I work. We publish a quarterly journal on adolescent development.

Updated 2/3/13:  I was asked to photograph an event that took place today at the First United Methodist Church where they welcomed a panel of speakers to talk about gun violence legislature and to talk to those who had questions they had about what they could do in response to the Newton Elementary School shooting.  The panel included Dr. John Alcott, Baldr Odinson, Mayor Kitty Piercy, and State Representative Nancy Nathanson.  People shared their experiences with gun violence from suicide, domestic violence, murder, and the Thurston High School shooting.  I was pleased to run into former high school teacher Saylor Smith who shared his experience saying, “It stays with you, no matter how much you wish it away.”