Author’s Note: This post has nothing to do with losing weight….or maybe it has everything to do with it.
“Where did you go to grad school?”
“Oh, you weren’t there when……?”
I’ve answered that question 1000 times. I’ve answered it at work, on vacation, at a wedding and even during a job interview. Yes, I was there. I was there to receive a call from my wife alerting me to there being a shooter on campus and dismissing her because there wasn’t anything of note in my email or on the Virginia Tech website. I was there right next to Norris Hall grabbing a newspaper just minutes before Seung-Hui Cho locked the doors of the building so people couldn’t get out and opened fire. I was there when the media trucks lined up on the streets and thrust microphones into everybody’s faces. And I was there when Cho released the bizarre videos to the nightly news.
Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything that you do flows from it.”
The day after the shootings, I was back in the lab running experiments. The only thing on TV was coverage of the shootings, perpetuated further by the release of the videos. No matter where you turned, there were constant reminders that nothing was the same. I tried to suppress the feelings that I was having with work, food and alcohol: grief for the people lost and the families that had to deal with that reality, anger that this had happened, frustration with the VT administration for their inability to act in a more responsible manner (especially with the experience from eight months prior), relief that it wasn’t me in that building, shame that I had those feelings of relief, helplessness at not being able to do anything……
For seven years, I’ve hated April 16. I’ve hated hearing people say “neVer forgeT” because that’s all I want to do. I’ve hated thinking that I had a math class in one of those rooms at that exact time just a year prior. I’ve hated that Virginia Tech—a place where my father grew up and I always associated with family—no longer feels safe. I’ve hated that anytime there is a school shooting, I feel that same empty feeling that I felt on April 16. I’ve hated waiting for “the question” once I tell somebody where I went to school. Most of all, I’ve hated Seung-Hui Cho for putting this scar on my heart.
Seven years is a long time. I want to let the hate go, but I’m not quite sure how.