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Dr. Martha Johnson

I was a music teacher in 1999, and my friend’s husband was a substitute at our school in Denver. It was my first year at that school, and when I asked him to play Santa Claus for the Christmas play, he graciously accepted.

For some reason, my friend and her husband did not spend spring vacation together. She said, when she came back from her trip, he didn’t answer her as she came in the house. She thought he was hiding, as he often did, to jump out and surprise her. instead, she found he had ended his life with a gun.

The shooting at Columbine High School occurred a month later. I was already so devastated that after Columbine, I became numb. My kindergartners, the next day, thought the news had said 50 people died. I remember taking rhythm sticks to show them 15, like that was better. My heart broke trying to explain it to those children.

Every single death by gun violence is priceless. Life is sacred, and those who have perished are still sacred. We can’t stop caring.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.