A Hokie heart is the biggest heart of all

Today is a special day. 3 years ago it was a really sad and scary day, and the days that followed were some of the saddest, most surreal, and loving days I’ve experienced. I know I usually try to make ya’ll chuckle at my funny little stories (remember Jason’s Deli? that ish is funny) and keep this here blog light and fun. But today I’m taking a mini break to remember some things and say some things. Today is a day to remember, reminisce, maybe cry, and definitely laugh at the innocent happy and funny memories that were there before and take joy in appreciative happiness that came after.

3 years ago today, I was up early (JK it was 10am…not early) throwing on boots (the warm fuzzy kind that go with sweats, not cute ones) and a hoodie, prepared to be late for Econ at 10:10. Then some emails alert us that there’s some crazy shit going down on campus and maybe we should stay away from windows. So now I’m a little annoyed (having been through the “crazy man loose on campus” once before back in September) and worried that I might lose that sorely needed extra credit being given in class today. Econ was so not my thing. Anyway, hours go by and we slowly learn that the unthinkable has happened. Unthinkable, because who, really, would suppose that something like that could ever happen? In Blacksburg of all places. Tragedies we often think about were more like…getting hit by a drunk driver, or maybe getting into a car accident. “Dangers” in Blacksburg consist of normal college dangers – drunk boys, drunk drivers, alcohol poisoning, girls alone on campus late at night (idiots), slipping on the ice, and getting blown away by the ridiculous wind. Those are all manageable dangers. We take a calculated risk to drink and not poison ourselves. We take a calculated risk walking home from TOTS or driving home when we shouldn’t. It is a reasonable risk to walk to class in ice and snow if class is not cancelled. But we do not even think of – never even occurs to us to think, there are crazy people out there in this little town. Maybe I should wear a bullet proof vest to class today. Unthinkable. Hours and hours go by, and what was unthinkable is now unfathomable and surreal and not really sinking in at all. It’s real but it’s weird real. We hug each other and cry, cry alone, use a million boxes of tissues because we can’t stop crying, take a different stairwell downstairs to avoid walking past that room that used to be occupied. We see others on campus  and don’t smile or greet them, because in their eyes we see what we are feeling. There isn’t anything to say because it’s not like other tragedies. It’s not like when a family member dies and you go to the funeral to support that person. It happened to all of us and we are all sad and we have all lost. So there is no “I’m sorry for your loss”, or making casseroles for that one family, or condolence cards. There are just hugs. And hand-holding. And singing. And candle lighting. And of course there’s some Go Hokies chanting and cheers.

This thing that happened to us, it was awful. It is not something anyone should have to go through, much less the parents and families of 32 students and professors, and their extended Hokie family of 27,000. That’s a big family! And that’s what we are, and if anything, this awful thing made us more aware and more thankful and more happy to be apart of that family. Family – the kind you share blood with – I will always love no matter what. It’s the rules. But Hokie family is different. We chose each other before this thing happened, and now we are bound by the love that has come from this awful thing.

So to all my family, those with whom I share holidays and hereditary OCD (you know who you are), and those with whom I have hilarious stories from TOTS: I love you, you lift me up every day. We are all far apart now and no longer living in that tiny town of love together, sleeping on each others couches, eating MJs fruit snacks and Pringles, ordering Pokie sticks at 3am, or going to hilarious parties in that cleanest of clean fraternity basement. But I carry you with me, we carry Caitlin with us, and Hokies everywhere are living for 32 today, and all days.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-ee cummings

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