Tragedies do happen. We can discover the reason, blame others, imagine how different our lives would be had they not occurred. But none of that is important: they did occur, and so be it. From there onward we must put aside the fear that they awoke in us and begin to rebuild.
Paulo Coelho (via quotewhore)
Today would have been my friend Jarrett’s 26th birthday. I met him freshman year as I would sleep on his dorm room floor when the guy I was hooking up with and I had a fight and I was too drunk to walk back to my dorm.
We were in civil engineering together and sat next to one another every chance…
We are Virginia Tech.
We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.
We are Virginia Tech.
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.
We are Virginia Tech.
We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.
We are Virginia Tech.
The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.
We are the Hokies.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We are Virginia Tech.
Nikki Giovanni (Day 15- A quote you’ll never forget.) I will never ever forget. I was going to just put the “We will prevail” quote, but looking at her entire speech, I wanted to put the whole thing, because it’s so powerful and moving. It’s hard to believe that this tragdey happened almost 4 years ago. But sometimes I still feel like it happened yesterday, and I break down. I’m still angry. I just hope one day, violence like this and what happened at NIU, and with the congresswoman in Arizona, and everything that has been going on in this world will just stop. (via hokielove)
In a classroom in Norris hall where engineering students came in and out was a man named Liviu Librescu. A white haired genius, a master of what he taught, respected by students, and colleagues alike.
On the morning of April 16, 2007 he sacrificed himself in order to save the lives of his students. He barricaded the door of his classroom that day serving as a human shield as his students escaped by jumping out the windows. The ultimate act of courageousness, love, and compassion.
I cried as I learned the details behind such a heroic act. What a phenomenal human being.
He protected those students as if they were his own family. He could have ran towards the window and tried to escape too, but he didn’t. He was one of the best in his field, so highly respected by so many, so downright smart, and so willing to share that knowledge with others. Though we lost him that day, all those people who survived can go on to shape the future of engineering with the lessons they’ve learned from this great man.
We lost 32 people that day, but as the personal stories unfolded, the sense of loss became a big black hole.
As the days went on, we learned that Liviu Librescu was a holocaust survivor. To think he survived the worst, only to meet a fate such as this? THE ABOMINATION! I cried for the hardships his family went through and now I cried for the loss of a man who was supposed to enjoy the rest of his life, teaching and sharing with others in the gorgeous green hills of Blacksburg, VA.
Who knew that this white haired man who showed up on time to class everyday was a holocaust survivor? Who knew that this gentle, kind hearted professor would end up making the ultimate sacrifice for his students? Perhaps his purpose in life was to save others that day. We will never really know for sure.
All I know for certain is that Liviu Librescu, who was seemingly an ordinary man, was really a hero that day.
It’s impossible to forget his name, his face, or his sacrifice. Etched in my heart forever is the story of the white haired professor in Norris Hall.
The first year after the shootings, for me, was dubbed “the year of firsts.” Our first graduations without them, first birthdays without them, first major holidays without them - a year of constant tears.
Those were by far the toughest milestones to get through after their deaths. This Christmas eve, years later, my hope is that their families and friends are able to get through another year without them. Another Holiday season without their smiling faces, their warm hugs, and presence.
I hope they find peace. I hope we all do.
For me, after the shootings happened at VT, I really became reclusive. I just wanted to be alone all the time, I didn’t want to talk to anyone because everyone I talked to asked about what had happened and I just couldn’t pretend like I was fine anymore.
My world had literally stopped in that ONE moment as the world outside me continued on as normal. I went through the daily motions of life but never felt anything other than all-consuming sadness. This is normal bereavement and it’s not glamorous. All I could think of was what had happened, WHY it happened, and all the what ifs. I tried to think of the last time I saw my friends alive. I wanted to live in THOSE moments forever. I tried to gather up as many memories as possible because there was NOTHING else to hold on to. HOW THE HELL DO YOU HUG A MEMORY? I hated when people told me “oh, at least you have the memories…” and to that I wanted to respond… “oh at least your friends are still alive.” I know they were just trying to help, but in those times you feel so much sadness and anger and you are most likely so sleep deprived you cannot even form complete sentences let alone complete sentences that are courteous enough for others.
I remember specifically one of the last times, if not THE last time I saw Dan. We were at a party at his house (my roommates and his roommates were very close friends). It was a Highlighter party so I threw on a Hanes v-neck tee ready to experience this black-light college phenomenon. As usual, Dan was there ready to greet us with a huge smile. I remember crossing paths that night with him and we were both so excited to write on each other’s shirts. I drew a heart on the front of his shirt with my name in the middle on it. He wrote his name really big on my shirt, as if to brand me. This was the last time I ever saw him. In retrospect, he should have been the one drawing a heart around his name on my shirt because his life and memory remain etched on my heart permanently.
This was one of my last memories of him and when I realized that, I dug like a mad woman through the piles of shirts in my dresser drawer only to realize I had washed the fucking shirt from the highlighter party. It was the ONE last tangible thing I could have had from him, but I washed it. I mean, who would have thought that weeks later, he would pass away? How does a 20 year old know that? I clutched that shirt and cried that night so upset that I washed him away. How could I do that? WHY did I do that? It still had other faint remnants of highlighter on it that survived the wash — so WHY on earth did his name disappear? Was this some sick metaphor?
Everyone was right. All I have now are memories. There’s no Dan to hug. There’s no shirt with his name in his own handwriting. Just memories. And the last memory I have of him is him smiling and having a great time, being a great host, and enjoying the moment.
I suppose that I am one of the lucky ones - someone with such a beautiful memory of another.
You know it’s sad to think that it sometimes takes something of this magnitude - a university massacre for people to really realize what’s important in life.
For me, it certainly did just that - for all my friends it did just that - for my parents it did just that… or so I thought.
When I came home a few days after it happened (I left b/c I couldn’t bare to see the candle light vigil - it was too much, in fact all of it was TOO MUCH), I noticed that my parents hugged me a little tighter and tiptoed around me scared that I could cry at anytime and most of the time I did.
Weeks later, they came to visit the memorial with me. People had left all sorts of trinkets for their loved ones who had passed. For Mike Pohle, someone had left a small little bottle of hot sauce - he must have liked his food extra spicy. As my mom walked along the memorial, she stopped at his stone and started crying. I suppose that when you look at many stones with just names, a personal trinket that reveals something about the person really humanizes them even though you’ve never met them. It makes them real to you. For her, I think Mike Pohle really opened her eyes. She muttered something about how she felt so bad for the families… how awful it would be to be uprooted by someone going before their time etc. I think it really made her thankful for her family and made her appreciate her role as a mother and a wife.
Fast forward to Dcember 2010 and now we’re on the brink of yet another Christmas, and this is the first time I’m saying this but… this is also the time when my parents, who have been married for 25 years are on the brink of divorce.
I found out in September… not even from my mother (who wants the divorce) but from my aunt and when I confronted my mother, she didn’t even look at me and walked away and left the house. I haven’t spoken to her since.
I understand that no marriage is perfect, I know that it’s constant work and I know that when your kids grow up, it may be hard to “find” that relationship you had with your spouse before having kids. It’s a shift in dynamic. It’s not a reason for a divorce.
Thanksgiving was the worst holiday I’ve experience to date. I was home for 3 days and hadn’t even talked to her. Everytime I’ve called her since September, she hasn’t responded. That’s irresponsible to me. I can’t respect someone who does that. I don’t care how mad you are at your child, they could be in the hospital hurt and if you didn’t answer the phone if they were, could you live with yourself? I cannot understand her behavior towards me, and she’s been even worse to my dad. I don’t know if this is a real horrible mid age crisis or what, but she’s not the person she used to be. She seems more materialistic and vain every single day and I really feel that disconnect with her.
Of all the lessons we could have gathered from this shooting, I’m surprised that she didn’t understand how important her family was to her. I think she said something along the lines of “your dad never gives me flowers for no reason.” And in my mind I think about all the times he has been right by her side when she was in the hospital… the one time when I was little where he worked two jobs so that she could go back to school… sometimes, actions speak louder than words. Personally, I see more love in those actions than I see in someone buying roses.
She’s been going off in the middle of the night without telling anyone where she’s going, she’s been gone for days without calling anyone to tell them she’s okay. She doesn’t answer phone calls and she comes home late from work every night. I don’t care how upset you are about your life, but you still have a child at home who doesn’t get to see her mother for dinner, and if she stays up long enough maybe sees her mom for 30 minutes a day. My heart breaks for my sister because she’s done nothing to deserve this and nobody has told her WHY this is going on. Why make her suffer?
My sister will be headed to college soon and if my mom doesn’t care enough to form a good and stable bond with her as she enters into adulthood, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have a relationship in the future. The same goes for me. I feel as though our relationship has gotten so sour, she is no longer someone I’d like to have in my life.
It bothers me because she refuses to talk to anyone about this in her immediate family and she refuses all therapy. It’s pathetic to me really. When I look at her now, I feel sorry for her. This is valuable time she could be using to bring everyone together and work through this, but instead she’s choosing the easy way out. Since we’ve done all we can as a family, and can no longer take the abuse, I suppose she’ll just have to live with the consequences of her actions. I feel sorry for her because I know that years later she will realize what a big mistake this is and she’ll be alone. Her children will have cut all ties with her… and then what? She’ll just be a shell of a person.
I would think that when such a shooting occurs, you realize to hold your family a little tighter every night. I would think that even if you didn’t get flowers and jewelry from your husband every day, you would look at all the things he HAS done for you and count your blessings. Many women aren’t that lucky. I could understand that if there was abuse going on, or infidelity going on, but when that’s the case and you only tell me “oh he just doesn’t give me enough stuff or take me out to dinner enough…” I’m sorry, that’s just not a reason to break up a whole marriage.
It feels like my mom is dying. The person I knew and loved is not there anymore and instead I’m left with a cruel person who looks and sounds like her, but acts nothing like her.
So this is Christmas.