I should have written this yesterday. Or the day before. Or the day before that. But I didn’t. I didn’t because on those days I was trying not to think about yesterday. I was trying to put off the pain I would inevitably feel, to avoid crying the tears that were bound to come and did. Something would pop up on Facebook and I knew not to read it. But then the day came, April 16. A day seared in my mind and heart.
Four years ago the unimaginable happened. On that day someone took the innocence from a beautiful place. I wasn’t there. I had long since graduated from Virginia Tech. But my baby sister was. She was finishing her sophomore year. We are lucky. She wasn’t injured or killed. But 32 other families were not that lucky. For 32 families it was the worst day of their lives. Some days I feel like it shouldn’t hurt so much. Because clearly my pain is nothing compared to others. I still mourn for my school and for the loss of innocence of my sister that day. The care free college days I experienced would never be the same for her. It can’t when the media invades your school and every celebration is covered by the national press. I would have traded places with her in a second, if only I could have.
But on no day was I more proud to be a Hokie than April 16, 2007 and the days that followed. The poise and class demonstrated by the Hokie Nation still bring tears to my eyes. The love from the extended Hokie Nation, those who lent us their shoulders while we mourned, will never be forgotten. The anxious calls from friends and family, calls that to this day still come, still checking in on me and my sister.
I always try to remember the kind words I heard in the weeks and month following and let them overshadow the ignorant comments that were also made. One story in particular happened several months after the shootings. I was on an airport shuttle, heading to catch a plane, wearing a VT t-shirt. A middle-aged woman sat silently next to me the entire bus ride and as I was preparing to exit she quietly said “I’m so glad you are wearing that shirt, you wear it with pride. And know that many people are praying for the Hokie Nation.” She was obviously worried to say what she said but I thanked her and tears fell from my eyes that day and many days since. Many of tears of sadness but many are tears of pride.
Never Forget 4.16.07