would say to God, "If you exist and you want me to know who you are,
I need something... ...Little did I know that my outcry would be answered
before I left high school."
and just flat out causing trouble. To me there was no hope for any of
us, and I was one of the students who knew that early on.
"I believe Columbine was the beginning of a spiritual revolution in youth as it had become a new beginning for me."
April 20, 1999 started out as any normal day would, but would end as the
worst day of my entire life. As America's worst school tragedy unfolded,
I thought about all the people I loved at that school and felt helpless
watching the television, answering phone calls and trying to make contact
with everybody. There were rumors flying everywhere and confusion so deep
that it was difficult to believe it wasn't all some terrible nightmare.
The night pressed on and all of us gathered together looking for the one person we had not heard from hoping she was just hiding and too scared to leave. We all worked on this assumption until we found her car in the parking lot the next day.
The school had been cleared, no phone calls from Rachel, and no signs that she had even left the school. The inevitable began to sink in. So many thoughts rushed through my mind at the same time like, "But I just saw her the day before...We had plans to see a movie...She was going to move out with a friend and get abstract art for the walls of her new place...She was going to write the play for next year...How could this have happened?" "Who could do this to such a wonderful person?"
Between the press, the rumors, and the blank faces of my friends, I had hit rock bottom with faith. I didn't believe a loving "God" would do this to someone who loved Him so much. I had become angry with everyone. I couldn't stand to see how ugly people truly are to one another and how true faith did nothing to bring Rachel out of the clutches of pure evil. The month following her death was a blur of emotions so painful that it was difficult to breathe some days. Over the many painful months that followed, my bitterness grew and the question of my life would go unanswered.
After the release of her parents book, "Rachel's Tears", in spring of 2000, I had become confounded. I learned of Rachel's premonition that her life would be short, but for a special purpose not known to her. I knew she wanted to reach many people on a spiritual level and would do anything for others even if it was just to cheer them up.
As I turned the last page of the book, teary-eyed and in awe, I had felt that my request, my "life's question" had been answered. God had given me the chance to spend time with a living angel and I would forever be grateful to Him and to Rachel for giving me hope and a purpose. Thanks to Rachel, I turned around my life and now have a wonderful relationship with "my Savior" and I have a newfound respect and love for people that I never had before. Rachel's kindness was so strong and I can think of nothing better then to carry the torch that was dropped.
Foremost, I no longer could deny God as I could recognize His handiwork in all of the pain and suffering. He gave Rachel a clue that she would be used to do His work just like she always wanted. I believe God used her in a powerful way beyond her imagination to cause a change in the world. I believe Columbine was the beginning of a spiritual revolution in youth as it had become a new beginning for me.
Over the past three years since the tragedy, I have seen so many good things happen and have seen so many people revived and loving one another inspired by Rachel's legacy. It has helped me heal and grow in my relationship with others. I am so thankful for the short time that I had with Rachel and I am continually amazed by how many people's lives have changed because of her legacy.
At one time in my life, I never thought I would find the love of God. Now, nobody could convince me otherwise.
Valerie Haile is 20 years old and a graduate of Dakota Ridge High School in Littleton. She is currently pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Arapahoe Community College, also in Littleton, Colorado. She is undecided about a career for now, but has several interests she is considering, one of which is web design.
She is a long-time member of the Columbine community and was a friend of slain Columbine student, Rachel Scott. Interestingly, the character that Rachel played in the school play they both worked on was named "Val" whose character was also developed after her.
Valerie is the research and content coordinator of www.racheljoyscott.com and also manager of the site's guestbook. She is also a skilled artist specializing in the graphite medium and loves to write.
We look forward to more of Valerie's heartfelt stories in the future. She is a wonderful person and we feel so very honored to have her on board.
If you enjoyed Valerie's story and would like to contact her with thoughts or opinions, feel free to email Valerie.
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