April 16, 2009 will mark the 2 year anniversary of when 32 lives were taken on my campus. I still remember that day. I was in my dorm, sitting at my desk, still in my pajamas when it all happened. I heard down the hall that something was going on across campus, so we all went to the windows facing the drillfield and saw Norris Hall with multiple ambulances outside of it. Luckily we couldn't see much more than that since the building was so far away from my dorm--but we knew something was horribly wrong. After multiple emails from the school telling us a gunman may be loose on campus and to stay inside, of course I got freaked out. I can't even tell you how many things went through my head that day. I stayed in my dorm almost all day watching the news, almost in a zombie-like fog like many of the rest of the students. The death count kept rising. First the reporters said there were 5 or 6 confirmed deaths. Then it jumped to 15. Then to 20-something. Finally up to 32. I hadn't been able to reach Ben all day since the phone lines were flooded with worried parents trying to call their kids to see if they were okay. I was worried about him, especially since I had heard that the Cadets were guarding the doors to some buildings (not exactly where you want your boyfriend to be when there is apparently a gunman loose). The list of victims was released gradually that week; as soon as the school could contact their families. We listened all week to hear if any of the victims were friends we knew. With 32 victims, chances were that most people on campus knew someone. I went to grab dinner that night with a few friends to bring it back to our dorm (the campus had not yet confirmed that the gunman was killed) and there were multiple policemen inside the dining facilities, with heavy-duty armor and automatic guns. Can you imagine walking around your college dining hall knowing that the campus was this worried about you that they would set up armored guards inside the dining hall? The videos and pictures of Cho that NBC released haunt me every time I think about them. The outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and people I hadn't talked to in a long while certainly helped me to feel loved in such a tragic situation.
Last month you may have heard another murder occurred on my campus. Many of the details are still not out since it occurred recently, and I think the campus was just shocked again that such a heinous crime happened while many of us who were here for the April 16 shooting were also present in Blacksburg for this one. In some ways this one seemed more gruesome than the first because it was such a personal murder. I can still remember reading in the paper that the policeman did not call for an ambulance because the girl was "clearly dead". I noticed that phrase, but it wasn't until more details came out that I knew what it meant. I can't even enter that building anymore. I used to grab late night snacks with Ben in the little cafe that it happened in, and I will continue to refuse to go near it in these last 4 months that I'm on this campus. So many people have lost their lives tragically on this campus, and they were only trying to improve themselves in college, just like me.
Today news came out that a husband and wife in my neighborhood (back at my parents' house) were involved in a possible murder-suicide gone wrong. My sister and I recognized the house from the pictures. It was a family I had met when we first moved up there. I went to elementary school with the oldest son, who was in many of my classes. His mom would often come into the school to read to our class (I can't remember completely, but I think the class was split up into groups so that parents could interact with us). The weird thing is I was just thinking about his mom the other day. For some reason I've always remembered that she read "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats to me and three or four other kids--then we talked about it afterwards. In one of my classes the other day, that story came up and I immediately thought of her. Imagine my surprise today to learn that she had passed away this morning. I am so sorry for that family. To the three kids who are all around my age, know that my deepest sympathies are with you and I will be praying for your family in the coming weeks. I can't imagine having to face that kind of pressure and deep sadness in the months before I graduate like my old classmate will.