Thursday, April 16, 2009

4.16.07: neVer forgeT


I had spent most of my junior year checking out pretty much every college from Delaware to South Carolina. Yet none of them felt right.


Then one day a classmate randomly mentioned that he had been to Virginia Tech and that it was really cool. I checked it out online, and mentioned to my parents that I'd like to visit it if possible. My parents (who were going through this whole college search thing for the first time and were beginning to get paranoid that I was never going to find a place I wanted to go to), made an appointment to visit the school the following weekend.

I'll never forget the feeling I felt when we turned into the campus. Many people probably say that you can't fall in love (especially with a school) at first sight, but trust me I did. I remember driving up past Lane Stadium, and then driving past the dorms, drillfield and classroom buildings. I was absolutely sold. There was no where else I wanted to spend my college years. I knew that something about this school was going to make those years special. I knew it was going to be the place where I really discovered who I was, and it would help make me the person I was meant to be.

Once I started school at VT, I was determined to take advantage of every opportunity. Freshman year, I ran for class office, and was elected Vice-President of my class (at VT you hold the position for all 4 years). I also was a member of the Student Government Association and the Student Alumni Association. I often got to emcee the pep rallies, which I absolutely loved doing. I was also co-founder and vice-president of an organization that many of you probably have heard of by now- Hokies United. The group was created after 9/11 to help the campus deal with the tragedy of that day. We made the organization so that it could be reinstated in times of difficulty...which it was for things such as the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. I still remember sitting on the floor of the room that night hashing out the plans for the group with my fellow students... never, ever in a million years did I expect that it would be reinstated one day to help deal with the biggest tragedy the school would ever experience.

The activities I was involved in were only one part of my experience at Virginia Tech. The friends I made there are the friends I know I will have forever. They are a family to me. I also had wonderful relationships with so many of the teachers and administrators. When I said that the school would make me who I was meant to be, it was these people- my friends, the teachers, and the staff that made that all possible. I can truly say I graduated having accomplished everything I set out to, and I had grown to be a much better person all due to the support of these people. I graduated with a second home, a larger family, and a place where part of my heart would always reside.

Like I'll never forget where I was on 9/11, I'll never forget anything about April 16, 2007. In fact, it took me four tries just to write this post because the feelings are still so raw. Sometimes I struggle with that...struggle to figure out why, almost two years later, it still hurts so much. But I'm learning to give into it, because, after all, they don't exactly write grief books for massacres. They don't really have support groups for this kind of thing. You come to realize that there isn't a right or wrong way to deal with something like this. You learn to deal with it anyway you can by trying to figure out some way in your mind to semi-comprehend what happened.

It's hard to comprehend that level of evil. And if your sane, I don't think it's possible to ever really comprehend it. Putting chain locks on doors so that rescue workers can't come in. Shooting so many rounds that faces were unrecognizable. Taking the time to mail a video to NBC in between shootings just so the whole world could see even more just how sick you were. 32 innocent people killed. 32 innocent lives taken in such a horrendous fashion. 32 angels who should still be here today. It's a level of sickness that I never thought I would have to learn to try and understand...and have to try to learn to forgive. Sometimes forgiveness comes, and other days you take it back in anger. Anger at seeing another mass shooting happen in the U.S. Anger in knowing that as graduation nears, there will be empty seats for those who won't get the chance to throw their cap up in the air and walk away head held high with their diploma.


But you try not to let the anger win. When you fight through it, and through every other emotion that you have- the grief, the sorrow, the disbelief- these feelings that hit you on levels you never knew you would have to experience- you try to come out of them with a positive thought. You come to realize that this experience will always leave you with a wound on your heart. Yet, somehow, even though you have seen the worst the world has to offer, you can look around and realize that there is more good in the world than bad. And that's what makes you carry on.

In reality, this could have happened at any campus. Unfortunately, it happened at mine. Sometimes though, I like to think that if it had to happen, it happened at my school because God knew we'd be able to show the world that evil does not and cannot prevail. But we will prevail.

WE ARE VIRGINIA TECH. WE WILL PREVAIL.


23 comments:

The Pink Chick said...

This is a beautiful post. Praying for you and all who were hurt by this tragedy!

Aliya said...

This is such a touching post... My ex boyfriend went to Tech and when I used to visit him I, too fell in love with the energy the school had. It is a terrible tragedy, and I'm sure one that still haunts many students/alumni today. All you Hokies are in my thoughts.

Elizabeth said...

Please know that I am thinking of you and the many others who were effected by this tragedy. Thank you for sharing this touching post.

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I know it was and still is very hard for you!

Melissa said...

Thank you for posting about this. I am a Hokie too (class of '07). Like you, I immediately fell in love with Tech. Halfway through my campus tour as a junior in high school, I knew that was my school. My boyfriend of 2 years was killed that day in Norris, and not a day goes by that I don't think about him and the 31 others that lost their lives that day.

neVer forgeT

The Reality of Happily Ever After said...

I'll never forget that morning either... Sitting on the couch wondering why none of my shows were coming on -- I didn't really sit up and pay attention until I heard "Now the death toll rises to 11" - I sat up straight and suddenly felt very shallow -- A week ago I said to D "The VT shooting anniversary should be coming soon" -- We all lived it, yet those people as close to it as you FELT it -- Thank you for sharing your incredibly touching story... and, btw, you're right... there's never a right or wrong way to grieve, whatever is best for you... go with it -- :)

1 Hot Dish said...

This is an absolutely beautiful post, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts & feelings - I'm sure it must have been hard. My husband also "fell in love" with Tech the way you did. We went up the weekend after the tragedy and I was in awe of the community support. The Hokies are in my prayers!! I hope you have a good week. :)

d.a.r. said...

Wow, beautiful post. I am so sorry you and your community had to go through that terrible tragedy.

B said...

Wonderful post. I am a hokie (2008) and will never ever forget the events of that day. It still feels so unreal.

I too fell in love with the campus and the people the moment I stepped foot on it. I miss it so much.

USCEmily said...

Wonderful post- I still remember this like it was yesterday. I remember the ribbons that were made at each school, as well and the saying "Today, we are all Hokies" What a terrible thing for a University to go through, and working at one as I do, it was a scary thing to think about. Thank you for your post, and I know that there are those of us out here that still think about the Virginia Tech family and know that some things will never be the same, but through prayer and the strength of the Hokie family, Virginia Tech will continue to thrive.

Jenny.Lee said...

This was so touching. Thank you for sharing.

Rachel said...

I've never commented here before, but I've stopped by a few times, and today I need to tell you that this is one of the most beautiful posts I've read in awhile. As a fellow Virginian and someone who grew up going to VT games with my father who is a Hokie, I think you said it all so well. We will never forget all those who were hurt by this day.

swangsta said...

never forget! I heart you Hokie :)

Erica said...

Virginia Tech for life, honey! Today is a tough day for all of us...

We will prevail.

Polka Dots & Protein Bars said...

As you know, I went to VT, hated it and transferred, BUT I was heartbroken. Utterly heartbroken when the shooting occurred. I lived in West AJ when I was in Blacksburg, and the fact that the shooting began there shook me up. I also lived on the same hall as Maxine who was killed. I'm thinking about you today, Katie!

Jessica said...

I'm praying for all of you who truly feel this pain even deeper than I do. I remember this day. It was scary and the only thing people thought about for quite sometime. I agree. I just still don't understand how someone could do something like this. I just don't get it.

The Reality of Happily Ever After said...

Hey! Thought you might want to know you are my Weekly Blog Love! :)

Kelly said...

I fell in love with my school at first sight too (MSU-Michigan State) So I understand that. I can not begin to know what it was like to be there that day. I do remember hearing the news at my own school and being in shock. This was a great post. I still think of those students and families. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Megilon said...

Although the world fell apart that day...many graces came from that day as well. Like 9/11 it gave us hope and faith in human kind when we saw the outpouring of love, care, and support to the students and others effected. We will never forget that day or the lives lost and the families will be in our prayers.

Miss E said...

Oh so sad, I remember being glued to the tv for updates. I can't believe the evil that is out there. It's so touching how the university and community banded together during that time. A good reminder of the rainbow after the storm.

Great post - thanks so much for sharing your feelings and experience!

Melissa Miller said...

Such a sad tragedy that occured. It will never be forgotten.

Have a blessed day.
~Melissa

BLC :o said...

Wow, what a powerful post. Thank you for sharing your heart. Xoxo-BLC

Lindsay said...

Hi Katie,

I know this is an old post, but I stumbled across your blog and got excited since you were a hokie (as am I)! I was reading back a little ways and came across this post. I was on campus on 4.16.07, and it changed my life forever. I have struggled for 2.5 years now to ever find the words to describe what happened and my emotions since then, and rarely find a way that feels right. You wrote eloquently and full of emotion, and reflected some of the same things I felt (and still do). We have struggled, but I agree with your final thoughts--maybe this happened at our school, because God knew we would prevail. It's been hard, but it is happening. Thank you for your words. I enjoy your blog very much! Go Hokies!

Lindsay