The night of the shootings, Reverend Don Marxhausen held a vigil at his Lutheran church. As he led his congregation in prayer, one parishioner begged him not to “forget” the Klebolds “in their hour of need.”
The Klebolds, unaware of their son’s violent aims, have been warned that they will be reviled in their community—however, there is a gleam of hope for them as some individuals recognize that the Klebold family is in anguish, too.
After checking his parish rolls that evening, Marxhausen realizes that Tom and Sue Klebold and their children, Dylan and Byron, had been members of the church five years ago. Though they didn’t stay on, he believes they are still “under his care.” He sends word to them that he is available to them if they need him, and a few days later, he receives a call from Tom—he needs a funeral for Dylan, and needs it to be confidential.
As Don Marxhausen helps his parishioners cope with the tragedy of Columbine, he faces another even larger test: helping the outcast Klebolds to mourn their son.
The service is conducted the Saturday after the shooting. Just fifteen people attend. Tom tells Marxhausen that “what you see in the papers was not my son.” Those attending the funeral “pour out their hearts” with anecdotes about Dylan, unable to understand where the violence and anti-Semitism come from—Sue herself is Jewish.
Dylan’s family, grieving, confused, and totally lost, mourns him and wonders how and why Dylan felt so angry, isolated, and failed.
The Klebolds are aware that if they bury Dylan, his grave will be defaced, so they elect to have him cremated. Marxhausen asks the Klebolds’ attorney how he should respond when the press inevitably is made aware of the service. The attorney entreats Marxhausen to tell them, very simply, about what he witnessed at the service. The New York Times features Dylan’s service on the front page, and in the article, Marxhausen describes Tom and Sue as “the loneliest people on the planet.” Many people have difficult drumming up any sympathy for the Klebolds, but some of Marxhausen’s parishioners are deeply proud of him for “finding compassion in his heart for anyone.”
Marxhausen is faithful to his parishioners, and treats the Klebolds with the same compassion he would extend to any other member of the congregation. He goes a step further, seizing the opportunity to attempt to reach out and humanize them in the media, where they are being reviled and ostracized rather than pitied or understood.
Though Cullen presumes that Wayne and Kathy Harris held “some ceremony for Eric,” word of it never leaked to the press.
The secretive Harrises somehow kept their sons’ memorial from the sensationalist media.