Monday, April 16, 2012


I remember I was sitting in board meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I remember checking the news at our break at lunch, mostly just trying to escape Robert's Rules of Order for a few moments.  Just trying to find some normalcy in my day.  I remember seeing the headline that a shooting had taken place at a college.  At my college.  Suddenly I remember praying for normalcy and for some "rules of order" to wipe away the chaos I was reading about. 

I remember feeling like I was in a daze and yet everyone around me seemed to be carrying on as usual.  Sure they had read the news and perhaps the gravity of it just hadn't hit them yet, but all of a sudden we were being called back to order and I was back to reporting out on financials and strategic goals.  I suppose I took some comfort in this distraction.  Surely by the time the meeting was over I'd find that it was simply a joke.  Some article from The Onion that had somehow found it's way to the USA Today

Instead, as my meeting adjourned I was confronted with the bitter truth that in fact 32 of my fellow Hokies had lost their lives.  They had lost their lives on the same campus that I had called home just four years earlier.  They had lost their lives while filling their minds with the knowledge that was to carry them throughout the rest of their lives.  They had lost their lives to someone who had lost their way, had lost their sense of humanity.

I remember sitting in the hotel bar that evening with my members and volunteers and I listened as they carried on about their day.  Talking about the meeting that had taken place and the future of the organization.  I remember that my eyes were glued to the television.  Watching ambulances and squad cars race across my beloved drill field.  I watched as the students cried and hugged one another.  I watched until I realized I had more important things to do. 

It was then that I started making phone calls.  Lots of phone calls.  I called my husband, whom I'd met on that campus, I called every friend and roommate that I had current numbers for.  I knew they were safe, they had to be safe, they had all graduated and moved on.  And yet there was this need inside of me to know for certain that they were ok.  My heart ached as I heard each friend answer and in those moments I thought of those that were on that campus making the same calls only to not hear an answer. 

My blood runs orange and maroon and I remember feeling so ashamed that I didn't have anything orange or maroon in my suitcase to wear the next day.  How could that be?  

I then remembered my first class at Virginia Tech.  It was 9:15 on Monday morning.  I was so proud that I had managed a schedule that didn't require an 8:00 wake up on Monday morning.  I remember walking across the drill field, still weary of the outfit I'd settled on, shorts and a t-shirt, not too casual, not too dressy, but then, how did college kids dress?  I remember walking up the steps to Norris Hall and entering the lecture hall and taking my seat right in the middle.  I remember thinking how lucky I was to finally be a student at Virginia Tech.  To finally be a real Hokie (having played one for many years in my previous life.) 

I remember then the sensation of the wind being kicked out of me.  How could so many Hokies have lost their lives in the same place, the same campus, the same building, where my life really began?  I've always been a proud Hokie, I was born a proud Hokie, but in that moment I knew that being a Hokie had taken on a new meaning.  

The next morning, without an inch of orange or maroon on me, I sat in my second day of board meetings, and listened as our chairman asked that we all take a moment of silence to honor Virginia Tech.  At that moment I was proud to consider everyone in the room a Hokie because let's face it...the world could use more Hokies. 

"We will prevail...we will prevail...we are Virginia Tech."

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