Wednesday, April 16, 2008

neVer forgeT

Today turned out not to be as bad as I expected. As the 1 year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, I expected to relive all the sadness and emotional instability of the week that started with April 16, 2007. I've had today on my mind for the past week, remembering all of the sadness I experienced myself as well as all of the grief I saw friends experience from afar. Thinking about how the university community was forever tarnished, and how so many people lost their lives, will always make me sad.

However, today I felt renewed. It almost felt like a fresh start, like a day to celebrate that yes, we made it. I really believe that today represents an important milestone in the healing process. That we made it to today helps to signify that we can make it to next year, and the year after that, and so on, without losing our minds, wallowing in grief, or forgetting to live ourselves. Granted, it is much harder for those who lost loved ones or dear friends, but I hope that reaching this point is helping them as well.

I wore an orange shirt today, and yesterday I encouraged other students and faculty through our social mailing list to consider wearing maroon or orange. I didn't see very many people in the department today since I was in my lab most of the time, but I did see people wearing those colors. It was nice to think that people were silently showing support. As I was thinking about things this past week I was worried that people might ask me questions about the shootings, especially people that weren't here last year but do know I went to VT. Thankfully no one did, as I think I may have fallen apart being asked much of anything.

It was an emotional day, but for the most part the emotion stayed inside and in the back of my mind. It came to the forefront only as I watched the commemoration speech webcast on the VT website. Hearing the names of each victim and a few sentences about them only served to remind me how real people died that die, real people with hopes and dreams, family and friends, plans for the future that will now never happen. It only served to remind me that they never had the chance to say "goodbye." It was enough that I had to pause the webcast a few times to keep from being overwhelmed. It was enough that just thinking about it is affecting me now.

As was said before, we will prevail. Although parts of this day were rough, making it to the end is a sign that we will indeed prevail, even it will take time. I hope that everyone else thinking about the Hokies today were also able to find strength for the future, and that everyone will be OK. I truly believe that we will be.

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