Virginia Tech 4-16-07

Every time a stranger or new acquaintance finds out I am a 2007 Virginia Tech grad, the next sentence out of their mouth is a slow, somber and predictable one that I hate to hear, but always comes out.  "Were you there on April 16th for the shootings?"

I always get a lump in my throat.  As someone who normally likes to hide negative emotions away in a little box and throw away the key, this topic is not among my top choices of conversation about a place that holds such a large piece of my heart. 

Was I a student? Yes.  Was I affected? More than I realized at the time.  Was I lucky that all of my closest friends were safe?  With unwavering certainty.

Next Friday, a week from tomorrow, marks the three year anniversary of April 16th.  I can't believe it's been three whole years since such a tragedy wreaked havoc on my school.  This year feels harder to me than any other...  Perhaps I have grown more self-aware.

Since I have never actually done this and I believe in the therapeutic nature of writing, I wanted to take a minute to write a few distinct memories surrounding that day.

On April 16, 2007 I woke up, skipped an optional Persuasion exam review session near Norris Hall and drove to Salem to work out at the Y.  On my way home, I feel like I either heard what was happening in AJ on the radio or Ashley or my mom called me checking in.. Those initial details are a blur now.

However the part that I won't ever forget is running on a treadmill in Salem that morning and seeing breaking news of shootings in Norris Hall.  When I saw 7 people were dead I went into shock.  I could not fathom this had happened in such a safe place.  There must have been some sort of mistake.  I promptly ceased my workout and drove to my Dad's house on Broad in a zombie like state.  I think my Mom met me there.  My phone rang off the hook all day- texts and calls from loved ones.  My fingers texted furiously making sure my sisters and friends were accounted for.  I was so edgy.  I probably could have heard pins dropping and have completely lost it.  Meanwhile the number dead grew and grew from beginning to end, something like 1 to 2 to 7 to 15 to 21 to 27 to 32?

I feel like I must have returned to Blacksburg the day after 4-16.. maybe to get some things from my apartment to take home?  I'll never forget watching CNN that day in my bedroom while I was gathering my things.  This of course was before all the names of the deceased were released.

My roommate Ashley and a few friends were frantically calling hospitals and everywhere they could think of searching for her friend Erin Petersen, who had not been accounted for since the shootings.  Meanwhile a room over, Erin's name flashed on my television among those who were gone.  I felt this distinct heaviness on my chest, like someone was standing on it.  I knew what I had to do.

I walked over to her room and did one of the hardest things I think I have ever done; I told my friend that her friend was gone.

And from there, all I remember is being glued to CNN for the next few days regardless of where I was.  All these reporters and media outlets were in Blacksburg.  That part was wild to me.  I could not wrap my mind around the scope of what had happened.  The TV became an obsession in those next few days and I think eventually my Mom tried to veer me away from the media, as images of the shooter and the glock were plastered on every major network by then. I took the rest of the semester off, as that was one of the options given to us.  In the next few weeks, I was sad a lot.  I can remember crying at night in my bed.  I felt blessed to be okay and have all my closest friends be safe, but I was devastated for my fallen Hokies.  In the weeks following the tragedy, I learned about them and felt like I could have known each of them.

That day in 2007 was devastating to the university community.  But the Hokies did what Hokies do- handled the situation with grace, sorrow and a strong sense of unity.  Now the Hokies remember the lives of those lost with a strong reverence and live for 32.

I love Virginia Tech more than ever.  I have never felt more proud of my affiliation with any place and I know I never will.

Oh and I know I've been blogging serious things a lot lately.  Sorry.  I know they aren't nearly as fun or funny as other topics, but still worth a share.  Promise to be more lighthearted next time!



P.S. I think these photos were taken by my friend Lauren in the days following 4-16.  I know I didn't take them and I feel like she was the one who had them.  I wanted to credit her.


  1. I love you! This year, just like last, is reallly hard for me too. It is still weird being so far away from Hokies. I know this week is going to be hard for all of us but we are hokies and we're strong!
    "I love Virginia Tech more than ever. I have never felt more proud of my affiliation with any place and I know I never will."
    I constantly feel that way too.