Sunday, September 2, 2007

This weekend marked the kickoff for our college football team kickoff. I wanted to post something that I wrote on April 16th before I mention this weekend:

the way it feels....
I know where my kids are. They are in lock down at their elementary school because a gunman (or two?) has killed over 20 and injured over 28 students at Virginia tech less then a mile away. I waited for an hour for my husband to make it home from class this morning after the news started to leak. I drove at noon to pick up my son from preschool, which was also on lock down, abt 2 miles from campus. There is little traffic on the road, mostly cops, ambulances and rescue vehicles. There are troopers from 60 miles away speeding in to help. It feels like August, when Morva was on the loose. It feels like last week, when a local middle school shooting spree was halted shortly before it was supposed to begin, which involved shooting a friend of mine who works as one of the police officer for that school. It feels scary, surreal. It's scary not knowing if someone we know was involved in this in any way, injured, killed. It's tense as I call a friend and hear him trying to get off campus. It's scary not knowing how long lock down will last, if the only shooter (who is now dead) was the ONLY shooter. It makes we wonder what is happening to blacksburg... Pray for all involved please.

NOW from April 17:

I dropped off John on campus this morning to meet with the other Hokies who were mourning the loss of life and friend. He is attending the meeting along with thousands of other hokies, the president of the US, the Governor, etc. For those who attended tech, you can appreciate this: The line to get to the coliseum starts at the door and stretches past the furthest side of the stadium. I watched moments ago as the Bushes helicopter landed in blacksburg. On my way home from dropping John off, I cried for the first time. Really cried. There is police presence all over the campus edge I was on. Every where you look, there are state troopers sitting quietly in their cars, just watching. Everyone seems to still be in utter disbelief. I really lost it though when I left southgate and turned right onto airport. There was an armored vehicle and several police officers waiting at the intersection of airport, where it turns sharply. I looked them in the eye, as I crept around the turn at 10 mph, met their eye. They nodded. My heart goes out to the people who helped so much these past 24 hours. My heart goes out to the family of the shooter. As a mom, I cannot imagine hearing the news that my son was killed along with 32 other people, but that he DID it to everyone. I cannot imagine the pain all the families of the victims are feeling. I feel the pain so real. Blacksburg is such a beautiful place, and I know the hokies will rise up and overcome this horrible event, but right now, it seems so impossible to overcome this grief.

And finally from April 20:

moment of silence
The kids have been out of school all week due to lingering bomb threats throughout the community. They are super restless with sports and all activities canceled. It has given our family the wonderful blessing of being together all week, and having the opportunity to have the boys experience the town pulling together as one. I may be crazy, but I want my boys to remember this event. I want them to remember the horror and sorrow the town felt as the details of the day unfolded. I want them to realize the pain one person can cause, and how many people are affected because of one persons selfish actions. i want them to remember the sights and sounds of heavy police protection, with SWAT teams and FBI agents around, the sight of the presidents helicopter landing, the sight of the orange and maroon ribbons tied around the black ribbons on the tree trunk, the sound of Nikki Giovannis voice, the sight and smell of thousands of candles burning as one. I want them to remember and understand now so the things I cannot explain to them now will one day make sense. My kids recognize the sadness, though they do not feel it themselves. They respect the stillness of the town at this time, while wondering why no one wants to play baseball games right now. They see the police, and comment on their numbers, without noticing the heavy weapons hanging in their arms. They can recognize the strength in numbers, though they don't understand it themselves. I look at their faces, the awe of them gathered in a crowd of thousands of orange and maroon blurs... The tears fall, and my kids hug me and wipe them off. My 6 year old sitting on my shoulders takes off his Tech hat and triumphantly waves it in the air, bringing smiles to the faces of those crying around us. They are proud to be hokies, though they still don't understand that being a hokie has changed definition. My kids, looking back, will remember this day. They will remember because I took pictures, because we talked about it, and because we involved them. Our town will heal because my kids generation will fill the town with positive energy. Our town will heal because my kids have watched it pull together, cry on each other, and pick up the pieces. Our town will heal because people care enough to make sure of it. Our town will heal because it has to help raise this young generation of upcoming hokies. Our town will heal because it can't afford not to.
I wanted to spend a moment talking about the healing process. It began Monday evening, as prayer services began, as people lit candles and set up vigils. As people began signing boards, cards, and bringing pictures. Today was the end of a LONG week of remembering. We gathered on the drill field to honor the victims, cho included, for he was a victim here as well, with a moment of silence at noon. Orange and maroon balloons were released one at a time, one for each dead and injured by one mans hands. The moment wasn't announced, it was natural to stand in silence and respect. People cried as the balloons disappeared in the bright sky. It felt as if it was making it official, the spirits had gone, just as the balloons had, into the bright sky. The silence stretched for minutes, as we stood in comfortable silence, each lost in thoughts. Friends found one another and embraced. It was so peaceful. Our family spent some time at the hokie stones, 32 stones set up with each victims name, flowers, and cards. we signed the boards, which are loving and beautiful. We went to the chapel, lit a candle. We saw where President Bush signed the VT cutout, where one of the first memorials were placed. It was comfortable, peaceful, and a loving environment. I am glad my kids were there to be a part of it. I know Monday will be hard, as people attempt to pick up the pieces and go on with the schooling. the mood on campus will be heavy for a long time, but today, we celebrated the moment of silence, we came together and felt the love of the community. Yes, we will heal.

HAVING reposted those entries from an online journal, I wanted to spend a minute talking about opening weekend. Our town has been so blessed these past 4 1/2 months. There are still ribbons tied on a few trees and signs. Each school planted a tree that blooms a beautiful orange and maroon on their campus, right in front of each middle, elementary and high school. It is impossible to run any errand without seeing a few Hokies United shirts on people. Every car seems to have a ribbon sticker or magnet. We still think about it everyday, there are to many reminders not to. But as a community, the sound of a siren no longer chills us to the bone, it only causes us to look and listen for more a little faster. Life is becoming more "normal." Football kickoff was neat. By being in this town for the whole experience of the shootings, we had the chance to embrace, come together, and mourn as a group. Many who came in this weekend did not have that opportunity, and this was it for them. There was a moment of silence yesterday, and a beautiful video played in Lane before the game. Balloons were released and then the game started. Up to that point, Blacksburg felt weird again, but when the kickoff started, Blacksburg suddenly became our town again. I was ready for it, we were all ready for it. The healing is there. We will prevail, we are Virginia Tech.
T came home from school the other day having written this story (spelling is left as it was written to preserve the "cuteness"):
Dragon went home and looked in cubeard
there was no food. So he went to food lion. But he thoutg it was fooddragon when he got in evreybodey ran out.

Very cute. I love watching him learn all the vocabulary and writing techniques. He is such a big kid now!

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