Author’s Note: There are some things in life we’ll never really understand why they happened. I’m not sure why I decided to write this piece.. it just sort of happened.. but I think part of it was to try to make sense of it all. I send my deepest respects and love to the family and friends of the 32 and my Hokies.
This year, the date or 4/16 just so happens to land on a Saturday… What if a few years back in 2007 4/16 had been on a Saturday? Maybe everything could have been different. We wouldn’t have had class that day, nobody would have been in the wrong place at the wrong time… nobody would have died.
If 4/16 had been a Saturday fate could have changed itself and something could have happened to make it so that boy never entered into that college dorm room or those classrooms and did what he did… took 32 brilliant, amazing people from this earth.
I don’t talk about 4/16 much. When people ask me, “Oh wow… You were there? What was it like?” I always give them this numb response as if I were reading them a paragraph that summed those hours up in poorly written newspaper.
But I decided that today I’d talk about it a little bit because I think we far too easily forget to celebrate life, and sometimes it’s remembering stories like this that humbles us to realize just how lucky we are to be here and just how fast that privilege can be taken away.
For those of you who aren’t all that up to date, 4/16 was the day these shots were heard around the world. That morning a young boy who had been plotting this for months stormed up to the 4th floor of a dorm room and shot a girl and the boy that came to her rescue. He then walked across the entire campus, walked into Norris Hall, chained the building entrance doors, and then proceeded to open fire in classrooms. He killed himself when he was finished.
32 students and teachers were taken that day.
I remember later that night…or maybe it was the following night… it was all such a blur… the entire campus met on the drill field for a candlelight ceremony. I remember seeing endless people kneeling on the ground next to mountains of flowers and letters crying and pleading. I remember experiencing being in a group of thousands of people who are all feeling the same thing, questioning the same things, searching for the same answers. I remember feeling one of the deepest senses of togetherness I’ve ever felt in my life.
They closed down Norris Hall. They cancelled class the rest of the semester. We left and went to visit our family and friends back home, and endlessly answered people’s questions when they asked us what it was like and if we knew anyone.
I never felt so far away than those few weeks I wasn’t at my school after the shooting. At least everyone there was feeling and going through the same thing.
But I do remember those couple weeks I was back at home I’ve never loved my friends and family so much. We are so lucky to have the people whom we love in our lives. When you think about it… they can be taken from us at any moment.
I used to think about how my Spanish class got cancelled in Noriss Hall that morning and how I might have been there.
What if he had chained those doors a little later or a little earlier? What if he had chosen a different building? What if it was a Saturday? What if somebody had stopped him? What if he had picked a different floor? What if he had picked a different classroom? What if one of my closest friends had been one of he 32? What if…
I guess no matter what happens in life, big small, bad good… playing the “what if” game doesn’t really ever work. It all just comes down to fate. What’s meant to be will inevitably be… as unfair as that sounds right now.
Sometimes I feel like it’s selfish to try to find good in what happened. How could anybody possibly say something good could come of something so terrible? But I think we owe it to them to try because that’s what they would want.
So, I thought maybe I could write a post about what happened and talk about it a bit. I thought maybe this story might inspire someone reading this whose been stuck in a rut or on the verge of making a bad decision or just tired and drained from living. I thought maybe I’d write about it and some good could come of it.
I thought maybe it would remind us to not take for granted the fact that we are ALIVE.
And because of that very simple, fundamental notion – that we are, in fact, alive – we should – not because we want to but because it is our privilege- do everything in our power to truly LIVE our lives… to make a difference… to be who we are meant to be… to make the world a better place… to love each other unconditionally.. to truly FEEL and BE and SEE.
Because without your life… you can’t do that. And because without truly living your life… you can’t do that.
Maybe tonight, when the sun is setting, you can go ahead and light a candle outside of your window, and think a little bit about how amazing it is that you are ALIVE. And think about all the bigger-than-life things you have to offer this world and how you’re going to offer them.
Live for 32. neVer forgeT.
For more information on what happened and to read the stories of each of these individuals you can go to the official VT Remembers.
Live Your Life To The Fullest Every Single Day. Every Single Moment.