A Moment to Reflect- Becoming Part of a Hokie Nation

I haven't posted in nearly a week,and what week it was. A long-time friend and colleague of mine from Jefferson Lab is moving on to a new life in the Washington DC area and we had been planning a party for her ( and about 60 of her closest friends) that had me spending 3 solid days as a "white tornado" getting my house in shape. The day of the party... Monday April 16, 2007. As I was finishing last preparations, I kept the television on watching, trying to absorb what was happening only hours away in Blacksburg. I have to tell you that I have terrible timing for taking a day off. I was working a half day after Molly's birth and preparing to go in for my half-day when the Oklahoma City bombing happened. I had taken the day off on 9/11. Those infamous days I was, like everyone else, glued to the TV, not wanting to watch, but unable to turn away.

But this day was different... Blacksburg is so close... I have children the ages of many of the shooter's victims... Like most Virginians, I have friends, and my kids have friends who attended or are attending Virginia Tech. How do I deal with it, and help my children deal with yet another bout of random violence. How do I carry on with a party, when so many families are dealing with the unspeakable horror of losing a child, or brother, or father, or sister?

We did have our party... we would not have another opportunity to honor our friend and colleague. We did the only thing that can be done in the face of this type of tragedy...we lived. We talked, we laughed, we ate, we remembered a person we cared about and who would be leaving us and our organization. It was a nice party in the midst of a world and day that did not make sense.

Friday, some VT alumni at Jefferson Lab organized our participation in Hokie Hope day, bringing their entire stock of Hokie wear to share with others who wanted to show love and support, making Maroon and orange ribbons, and taping Va Tech banners to their office and cubicle doors. We gathered together and took a few moments out of our work day,watched a slide show of remembrances for the students and faculty that took place at universities all over the world, and finally, as it approached noon we saw the faces of the victims, projected on the screen... their smiles, their enthusiasm, their lives... In our silence we prayed and reflected upon this act of needless violence and lifted these special people up in our thought and prayers.It was a special moment that bonded us together in a way that only tragedy can. And we left with the words of Virginia Tech poet Nikki Giovanni stating... "We will prevail". It is true that we will prevail... hope will prevail... love will prevail... indeed it must, here, in the Hokie nation.


Anonymous said…
Thank you for sharing. My feelings are in a state of, "Oh no no no, not again" and "It wasn't my family, this time" and of course anger and intense sadness. So many lives, so many, everyone loved by so many others. Every day is a gift, tomorrow is promised to no one.
Susan said…
Deborah, thank you for this touching post. Your sentiments are heartfelt and appreciated.
Sensitive and moving post. Chilling info. about your days off. Thanks for writing about this horrible event.
s'kat said…
Terrible times morph into good ones, and back again. Nikki's motto is a great one... hard to hold in mind sometimes, but worthwhile.

Things change, at least, we can only hope they do.
Kristen said…
I am very far away from this tragic event but can't help but think this could happen absolutely anywhere. This was such a senseless tragedy and we'll never have the answers as to why... My heart goes out to you and everyone close to the situation. If it weighs on my mind this much I can only imagine how you feel in VA.
Thank you for posting your thoughts and feelings about this.

You may be interested in the blog day of silence to honor the victims. I just posted a link on my sidebar of my blog. I hope you can participate.
Deborah Dowd said…
Anonymous-you are so right,it is important to appreciate your blessings every day!

Susan- I think is is valuable to share at a time like this

Ronnie at the round table- A coincidence I could do without

S'kat- I know that life does this and the bad times help us appreciate the good, but it is still hard for all of us to understand.

Kristen- Thanks for your thoughts and I will be participating in the blog day of silence.
vasilisa said…
I was so terrified by the whole thing that I could not to watch TV at all that day. I just can't believe these things are happening.

Somehow having kids makes me feel so much more vulnerable -- as in: what kind of world did I bring them into? How do I protect them?
Deborah Dowd said…
Vasilisa- It is hard to accept that the world is what it is... and there is only so much we as parents can do to protect our children without denying them the type of full life we want for them.