Virginia Tech

VT“You girls must be sitting in the smokin’ section,” our dorky waiter Richard joked.

The three of us giggled.  It was a late Friday night, and we had just finished seeing Jersey Boys on our Woo Hoo weekend.  Our dinner wasn’t sufficient, so we found ourselves at a local pizza joint for a midnight snack.

“Are you ready to head back to college?” I asked Janelle, a summer intern at our church. We had spent the last 24 hours together, but other than that we had only had a few casual conversations.

“I love Virginia Tech,” she said.  “I miss it so much.”

“Wait… Virginia Tech… isn’t that where the shootings were a few years ago?” I asked.

 “Yeah,” she said as her eyes fell.

Her demeanor completely changed as she began to recount that dreaded day.  The first two shootings occurred on her floor in West Ambler Johnston Hall.  One of her friends found the bodies after waking up to the sound of gunshots.

Janelle didn’t know anything had even happened until they forced the students to evacuate the dorm.  Word spread like wildfire, though. 

“You couldn’t get ahold of anyone,” she recounted.  Cell phones didn’t work because the air waves were so busy.  Friends frantically searched for signs of life before they released the names of the victims.  Janelle’s good friend and planned roommate for the following year was one of them. 

I watched as Janelle’s eyes welled up with tears as she spoke.  She proceeded to recount the horror of the days and weeks to come.  Funerals.  Memorial services.  TV Reporters.  Interviews. 

I sat and listened intently.  I couldn’t begin to imagine what she went through being so closely linked to a national tragedy.  It wasn’t just a news story to her; it was real life.  It involved her friends. 

Janelle spoke with strength.  She spoke as one who has walked through trials.  She spoke as one who has come through them as a survivor…and as one who is proud to call Virginia Tech home.

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~ by Serena on October 28, 2009.

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