One decade, 10 years, 3,650 days, 87,600 hours, 5,256,000 minutes...it sounds like an eternity, but in a second it all comes back to me. It was 10 years ago today when I was working in my office at Virginia Tech when my life changed in a flash. Bullets, blood, sirens, tears, media and my heart racing, those are the headlines for what I think of on April 16th.
"All you need is time."
"Next year will be easier."
"We are all Hokies today."
No phrase or comment can take away what we all went through on that day. No one can take the pain away. No one can bring back those people. No one can make me feel completely safe on a college campus again. Nothing will change how my life and the lives of so many others were changed. I reflected on that day on a blog I wrote during grad school. If you're interested, feel free to read my posts for the day of, day after and week following.
There is one shining glimmer of hope I take with me. Four years after that terrible day, a little girl was born (note: not my child, a good friend's). A little girl who is smart, funny and beautiful. So when I get too lost, too wrapped up in a moment, I like to think of her. Because no matter how my life changed that day, the moments after, the people who I call my friends and family are the ones who stood by me.
"Time does heal, but scars almost never fade. It's like a dull ache you feel at certain moments when the weather's changing. I feel the pain at times when I least expect it and even when I'm most prepared."
Every year I pause to remember, each year it's a little different. Here's how I've remembered the day each of the last 10 years:
2008 - I just said simply..."I wish I was with my Hokies today."
2009 - I decided to let my musical selections describe my feelings. My playlist was diverse, but music played a crucial role in helping me cope in the darkest moments.
2010 - This year was a rough one on me. My life was in turmoil at the time and so my remembrance was simple. I did share Coleman Collins' (VT basketball player) story. One quote from his story I can relate to "How could I explain that because I didn't know anyone who was killed
that day, that everyone I know was killed that day?"
2012 - Five years...I ran the Run for Remembrance for real this time. I also brought my my significant other to visit Virginia Tech. Mary joined me for this trip after we had been dating for a just a few weeks. It was a fun adventure, but also gave me faith that someone could love me even with all of my scars.
One Day Without Shoes because it truly reflects the Virginia Tech motto
"Ut Prosim" (That I May Serve). I built a strong foundation of service
in my time there. So today, I go without shoes, for a cause bigger than
2014 - Tragedy seems to be a common theme during this time of year. This quote from a Boston Bombing victim on the year anniversary resonates with me...
"Let April 15 be a day that we all work together to make this world a
better place. The biggest lesson I have learned is that something in
your life, in anyone's life, can go horrifically wrong at any second.
But it is up to us to make every second count, because believe me, they
do." - Adrianne Haslet-Davis
2015 - I participated in Take Back the Night with the Crisis Line & Safe House in Macon.
2016 - Participated in the 32 Million Steps for 32 Challenge. Enlisted some of the family to participate. I believe the total was over 44 million steps.
I'll talk about this year in the next post...