Bill Clinton came to town yesterday.
More specifically, Former President William Jefferson Clinton came to Denver to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial to the victims of the 1999 Columbine High School attack.
But, really, Bill came back to town. Bill, who believes his number one job was always “father” and number two was whatever else he was doing – including being President (ah, Bill, would that you coulda remembered that in some of your more eventually famous weak moments in, er, personal situations).
Bill, the sitting President who came with his wife to meet with the Columbine community shortly after the tragedy. Bill, who promised to help them raise the funds for the memorial.
Bill, who has kept his promises to the families of Columbine High School. Who’s dug into his own pockets (well into the five figures) for the cause as well as his other fund-raising work for it.
A man who spoke briefly and gracefully of pain, and loss, and hope. Who ended by quoting Hemingway about how life breaks everyone, and we heal and are stronger in the broken places.
Dawn Anna Beck, mother of Lauren who died at Columbine, spoke first and introduced Bill. Thunder boomed in punctuation to her remarks, and in this extra-parched year for the arid West, rain began pattering down. She ended her remarks, and Bill Clinton delivered his, sheltered by umbrellas.
After the shovels turned the earth, Bill Clinton stayed and mingled with the Columbine families and survivors. The rain had stopped by then, the sun peeked out.
Booms of thunder, then the blessing of a bit of rain to break the drought. And sunshine again.
Grace, I thought.
Life can bring unimaginable tragedy, horrible pain, long hard slog and struggles through darkness without beginning or end. People who smile sincerely as they promise to help – and then vanish. And people who keep their promises.
Finally there are hints of light on the horizon, moments of weight sitting lighter on the shoulders, stretching the body on waking like a cat instead of curling into a fetal position.