reinvented's Blog

The good and the wise lead quiet lives -- Euripedes


Littleton, Colorado, USA
July 28
I'm a parent of three, one a now-deceased Columbine victim (Daniel), a perfectly lovely 23 year old woman who works in youth services and recently graduated from college, and a gifted and adopted Chinese daughter, age 9. I was an English major, with an abiding interest in literature and writing. I think I'm retired from the world of work. Mostly, I have been a parent (I was never good at multi-tasking anyway). I have a feisty and loving husband, who was a strong advocate of gun control and was instrumental in getting Amendment 22 passed here in Colorado. Even though gun control became passe particularly in the Bush years, it still has a lot of resonance for me (although we Americans seem to adore our weaponry). I'll be blogging some on issues of grief and healing, since these have become areas of particular interest to me since the murder of my son.

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APRIL 7, 2009 7:22PM

Who Was Daniel Mauser? A Memoir by a Columbine Parent

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Daniel in blue 

The above is a picture of our boy Daniel at four.  Never thought he'd grow up to be a murder victim at 15.  Still less that he'd be murdered in what I always considered sanctuary:  the high school library (at Columbine). 

All things considered, we're still better off having known Daniel.   I was glad that Dave Cullen in his new book "Columbine" didn't attempt to profile all of the victims in depth.  That's something difficult to do, especially when one didn't know the victims firsthand.  They can end up seeming like caricatures, somehow.  You know, the jock, the rebel, the valedictorian. 

Daniel was in many ways quite a conventional adolescent.  Generally he liked keeping a low profile.  He grew into a rather gangly young man, 5'10" and 145 lbs.  at 15.  He had just edged past his father in height and could quite literally fill his father's shoes.  His father would actually wear Daniel's shoes at various gun control rallies.   

Daniel had a certain "shy guy" myopic charm that was slowly starting to attract certain girls.  He hadn't had any dates yet, but was inexorably moving in that direction.  For some girls he undoubtedly would have been under the radar or maybe even a little nerdy.   Daniel wasn't by any stretch a typical "man's man" or in this case a "boy's boy."  I think the cross country coach barely knew who he was.  He wasn't terribly athletic, although he enjoyed running.   His French teacher clearly adored him.  He had a well-developed feminine side which can be  quite appealing to some females.  He was sensitive, and his English teacher wrote that she always appreciated his wit.   He was well mannered and gentle in demeanor.   He would roll his eyes at his sister, a budding thespian, and in an exasperated tone exclaim, "Theater people!  Oh my God!"   I think he prided himself on being a rational sort of fellow, not given to drama of any sort.

Daniel travelled to France with some other Columbine students in the spring of 1999.  I was always so glad that he was able to take that trip.  He stayed with a family right outside of Paris.  The condolence letter we received from his host family contained the notation that they considered him "tres gentil."  The last photo I have of him is with the Columbine French students.        

His childhood wasn't trouble-free, but darn near.  I was worried for him in the 6th grade.  He started struggling somewhat with depression, a condition that runs in my side of the family.  I was concerned and sent him to a therapist to try and avert difficulties.   He was feeling somewhat stressed since he'd had a bout with pneumonia and had missed a lot of school.  His teacher was pressuring him.  The poor kid was still just about coughing his lungs out after several weeks, although the doctor had given his o.k. for a return to school.  Fortunately he recovered and mostly seemed to snap out the depression after a few months.

Daniel did show some precocity in junior high, placing 6th in general science knowledge in the seventh grade, and 2nd in the eighth grade.  To my chagrin, he received a low grade in science that year because he failed to turn in an assignment.  He was a bright boy who struggled a bit with organization, and I helped him.   It worked.  In his sophomore year his biology teacher told me a couple of weeks before he died that he had been selected to receive a Stretch for Excellence award in biology.  That award was given to the outstanding student in a particular subject area.  Daniel had also just applied to the National Honor Society.  Unfortunately he died before he could accept either award.  By that time, he had morphed into a straight A student.  He seemed happy and spent a lot of time with his best friend Jeremy and other kids on our block. 

Daniel spent a couple of summers working in the pharmacy at Swedish Hospital as a volunteer.  I thought pharmacy work might be a possible career path for him, but we'll never know.

Daniel had a strong interest in and was a participant in debate and current events bowls.  Oddly enough, several weeks before the shootings, he mentioned to his dad that there were loopholes in the Brady bill, one of them being the lack of background checks at gun shows.  My husband was later to help close this loophole through passage of Amendment 22 in Colorado.

 Because of Daniel's interest in debate, he wanted me to buy him a nice suit, which I did shortly before he died.  He wore it once -- at Easter -- and was buried in it, along with photos of his favorite cat and first pet, Alfred, and Star Wars videos.

Daniel @ computer 


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columbine, grief

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Thank you for sharing your memories. I am so sorry for your lose and those of the other Columbine victims.
This must have been so difficult to write, but I appreciate getting to learn a bit more about your son. No parent should have to endure the loss of such a beautiful life. I am so sorry that you do.
What a beautiful boy. I love gentle souls like him.
I am glad to hear your memories of Daniel. He was a beautiful boy.
Thank you for sharing your memories of Daniel with us. I'm so sorry for your heartbreak and loss.
I can only repeat what others said - what a beautiful, gentle boy. He was a great loss to the world.
Thank you. This is a hard time for you, but again, thank you for sharing your love, and your grief with us.
Such a tragic loss of life. Thank you for sharing with us.
there are no adequate words. I'm sorry. And thank you for sharing your story.
As one of those "Theatre people" your son spoke of, he was wise beyond his years and gave me a smile this morning. Thanks so much for sharing him with us.
Your son was a beautiful young boy and a handsome young man. I can only imagine how much pride he gave you by turning out to be such a hardworking, gentle and sensitive soul.

It is senseless that a life with so much promise and potential would be cut short. He had so many gifts yet to offer the world.

I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your memories of him-- the world is a better place because he was here, however briefly.
There's nothing like a mother's love. I can feel yours all the way from here.
I am sorry for your loss and moved by your tribute to a most excellent son.
It's hard to find the words for a comment. I'll just say thank you for sharing some of your son's life with us.
Difficult to read as a father of an 8-year old son but I so admire you for your ability to convey your grief through the written word. I know it's hard but I also believe it's healthy. I'll never forget that day and I'll never forget the innocent victims.
Columbine has always touched my heart and made me shed a tear, I had a friend who works in news and he was in Colorado at the time Columbine happened, and he says it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do as a reporter. All I can say is not has hard as it was for you or the rest of the parents and families. Thank you so much for sharing and giving such a wonderful insight into your son. I only hope that my son knows the amount of love I have for him, and that it is as evident in our lives as it seems to have been in yours. May God bless you and thank you for your strength in sharing this.
What a beautiful young man. Thank you for giving u a glimpse of his life.
Like you, I'm so glad Dave Cullen did not write in-depth profiles of the victims, because no one could have done it as truthfully, or as lovingly, as you.

Thank you for sharing this picture of your smart, gentle, rational, beautiful son. Prayers for all of you today.
Daniel was--is--the sort of soul I've always been drawn to. It's a pity we all lost the privilege of knowing him.

How gun freaks can read accounts like yours (and thousands of others) and still cling to the notion that guns are needed for "protection" in this country is an infuriating mystery.

Thank you for this introduction and eulogy.
Oh, my. For the second day in a row you have brought tears to my eyes, except today they are running down my cheeks.

What a lovely tribute from a loving mother.
because of my own three children, this was very very difficult for me to read. again, I'm so very sorry for your loss, which has struck me deeply. thank you for sharing Daniel
Your beautiful son will be remembered by many through your tribute. All the best to you going forward beyond the tragedy.
one other thing: looking at your "favorites" and remembering your comments, honesty and vulnerability in the post about Dave Cullen's book on Columbine, the fact that you have him listed as a favorite speaks volumes about your heart.
Tres gentil, indeed. I see from the tenderness of this beautifully written remembrance, he inherited that gentilesse from you. Thank you for sharing Daniel with us.
I am crying for your loss. He was absolutely adorable as a child, and such a handsome teenager. I'm glad to have had this glimpse of him.

Thank you so much for sharing with us.
Sorry... I can't think of anything to say, except how much I appreciate your sharing this story.
I'm honored to know Daniel a bit more - thank you so much.
Through your loving respectful post, you have allowed us the opportunity to get to know the incredible young man who was your son.

Thank you
- rated
Thank you for letting us know your son so well, through they eyes of someone who really knew him. As you stated, this was better than a stranger writing about the kids as caracatchers. I love the sweet, gentle spirits who shine their lights in this harsh world. I too, lost a son, very similar in nature to your boy. A freind sent me a book titled, "Men too Gentle to Live Among the Wolves". about these types of males who are gentle and good. It made me feel good because my friend saw this in my son, Ralphy. You are a wonderful mother and doing things to memorialize your son's life.
You honor your son, and I pray for your family. Thank you, for this tribute, many parents will hug their children a little tighter today. I will not argue with my three sons over what they will inevitably try and wear this Easter, I will have a picture of your son wearing his last Easter suit, and try not to cry anymore for your loss. God Bless you.
Thanks for all the wonderful comments. This has proved very cathartic for me. After 10 years a person can start to feel alone in their grief. So much time has passed, and yet the loss of a child still looms large. MaryCatherine: I am familiar with that book of poetry from years ago. I believe it is by James Kavanaugh, a priest turned poet. Well worth the read.
Beautifully and lovingly written....having some firsthand experience with too-early deaths of loved ones, the only comfort I ever found, however limited and pathetic, is to accept that things happen for reasons. Some would express this as "God's will", while others, including myself, would express it as the mechanisms of karma. Same thing, really. Many Native-American traditions say that each person has an allotted time on earth, and we die when that time is gone, however brief.

Believing in the karmic reasons for all lives and events gives meaning to least, for me.
My own son is 15, and and many of the things you say about Daniel describe him as well. My mind turns away when I think of losing him, but I know I would feel lucky to have had him if I did. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Take care, HB
I know what it's like to lose a parent. It's sad, but inevitable. I don't pretend to know what it's like to outlive a child. I can only imagine, and what I imagine is horrific.

I hope your posting here helps you and the rest of your family in the process of working through your grief. Thanks so much for sharing this.
There was so much potential that was lost that tragic day. As others have already commented here what a lovely tribute to such a great son and I want to express my sorrow for your immeasurable loss.
Thank you for your memoir of a dear boy. I can't begin to understand your pain, but you are a very brave and strong lady. I am sorry for your loss.
After reading your post yesterday on the Columbine book release, I went to the website you created for Daniel. So, upon reading this, I was doing pretty well, until I lost it with the last line.

What a wonderful son and young man. Thank you for sharing a tiny bit of his life with us.
Mothers and sons. Fathers and sons. How intertwined we are, and we don't know it. Until something happens. Then we begin to learn.

Thank you for this beautiful and heart-stirring, although amazingly objective look at a son I'd have loved to have as my own.

I am so sorry for your loss.
thank you for sharing your son with us.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful son with us.
He is beautiful and most certainly would have grown into a beautiful man who would make a huge difference in the world.

I'm glad you wrote this - when you are removed in distance from events like this, you know little to nothing about the victims and they become more of a number. You are humanizing your son for people who only heard about this on the news.

Words just can't express the way I feel about those who murder random murder innocent people. It makes me sick.

Thank you for this wonderful look at a great boy. Having lost a son, I can feel your pain. Some folks say time will heal but I don't think so. What does help is knowing you are not alone in your grief. Your writings are a wonderful tribute to your precious son.
Fantastic journalism here. This is the first of this type of story I've personally seen. Let's hope the world of journalism at large can support more articles like these. Every parent who reads this story is going to be moved.
This is almost too beautiful for words. Thank you a second time for sharing your story, and your son.
beautiful. thank you. you help put my own world in perspective.
Thank you for telling us about your beautiful son. I am devastated for you. My sister lost her daughter in a road rage accident and I know/she knows she will never be the same. It is horrific and unspeakable that you lost your son in this senseless matter. But what is so impressive about you is that you are one of those rare human beings that takes your grief and uses it to help others. Thank you.
Thank you. You made Daniel real to me. He deserved so much better than he got, as did all the kids that day.

I'll never assume I "know just how you feel"--that would be impossible and presumptuous on my part. But I can read in your words how huge and painful this loss was and still is.
Thank you for writing this. Daniel was a wonderful child.
What a beautiful boy! In sharing him with us, you've made the enormity of the loss, and the horror of that day, immeasurably more real to me. Grief doesn't seem like a big enough word to hold it. Thank you for this, and please keep writing...
Thanks. I am so sorry for your loss.
It was a pleasure to read about your son. You keep his memory alive with your shared memories.

He is an angel.
What a terrible loss your family has suffered, and the loss of such a kind and gentle soul leaves the world diminished. Thank you for telling us about Daniel, he will not be forgotten.
Thanks so much for having the courage to post this here. It's such a simple, honest testimony to a good life. You must be so proud of him, and your husband for his work.

Gun control isn't the only answer. I live in Montreal where we have gun control, and have had three school massacres in twenty years.

Gun control may not stop school shootings. But it stops so many innocent deaths. I'm sure your son's death, and the legislation it inspired, has saved countless lives.
Undoubtedly gun control isn't the only answer. And I'm not saying necessarily eliminate guns entirely. For starters, I would like to see the assault weapons ban reinstated. Of course determined criminals will always be able to get their hands on a weapon. But we shouldn't make it as easy as obtaining popcorn. It's troubling to read, as I did in today's Time magazine, that more and more Americans are stockpiling weapons and ammunition. This is a good thing??!! There are plenty of those that think so, sadly.
My heart goes out to you. Thank you for finding your catharsis here and sharing your son with us. I can't imagine your heartbreak, but I do understand the annual ordeal of facing the strongest memories of the worst days of your life. Best wishes to you and your family.
I'm happy that you're able to write about your son. I think writing and sharing memories can be a great catharsis.
Daniel sounds like someone I would have been honored to know. Thanks for sharing him with all of us.
Thanks for sharing.
Remember Daniel and all the others well. My studio is 3 miles from Columbine and heard all the sirens and wondered what happened. Was at several of the events at the park on Bowles and took lots of photos of all the memorials. What a tragic event. Don't think anyone will ever forget it. Actually passed by there today on the way home and you always remember and say a prayer.
What a beautiful, intelligent son and wonderful writing. I don't know how you do it, but I am so glad you can. Thanks for sharing. rated
Thank you for sharing Daniel's memory with us. I found your tribute exquisitely moving. I can imagine his joy in his first suit from the experience with my own son. It is such a pity it had to serve this unprecedented purpose. He sounds wonderful and he brought you great joy. You have privileged us with this shared memory. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, and all the Columbine families this Easter weekend.
I'm a tough old hen, but you've made me cry.
"All things considered, we're still better off having known Daniel."

This was a beautiful thing to say about Daniel.

As I finished this and began reading the comments the song. "Sons of... (Fils de...)" from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" musical revue began playing in my head.

Sons of the thief, sons of the saint
Who is the child with no complaint
Sons of the great or sons unknown
All were children like your own
The same sweet smiles, the same sad tears
The cries at night, the nightmare fears
Sons of the great or sons unknown
All were children like your own...
So long ago: long, long, ago...
I am so sorry that you lost your precious son.
What a loving, caring mother. As tears well up in my eyes, I truly am so sorry for your loss. I don't know that I would have the strength to even wake up anymore. A gazillion hugs to you and your family. Much love, peace and warmth.
folkmuse -- liked that poem a lot

screamin -- thanks for the condolences

& thanks to all who commented here.
It sometimes seems a mockery, that the world does not break from grief.
Google Columbine Family Request
This entry really touched me deeply.And I thank you for sharing your memories with us.I just can imagine how difficult it had to be to write it down.
I'll never forgot the moment,when I read,that Daniel was never afraid to hug his parents.I'm sure he was a truely great soul.
I'm sorry for your loos.