The past and looking ahead

May 24, 2007

virginia tech library

This past weekend I returned to Blacksburg to meet a friend (John) and spend time walking in nature and hanging about town.  I brought a newer friend (Michael) to share in the experience since he is for the time unfettered.  When I made the plans for this trip there were no memorials set up for fallen students and teachers.  Blacksburg was still the idyllic setting I knew from undergraduate days, a vibrant college town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

virginia tech drillfield

If I didn’t have the memories of that horrible day and the unfolding aftermath, Blacksburg would not appear much different to my casual glance.  There are many ribbons tied on trees, a makeshift memorial near the center of the campus and an academic building fenced off from prying eyes.  If you had not known that this was the place of the incident then you could have easily walked on by these changes. 

virginia tech memorial

And I must admit that besides the hour or so I spent walking around the campus thoughts of that day did not enter my head.  I found it very difficult to fuse the knowledge from April 16th learned via different media to my prior memories of Blacksburg and present experience walking around town.  The tragedy for me occurred while I was at work in Virginia Beach and home later on the Internet and the radio.  I felt the sadness in my living room with my wife close by.   

virginia tech burress hall

So to be in Blacksburg it felt like I needed to superimpose those emotions felt in Virginia Beach to the place where it actually happened.  Strange indeed.  I couldn’t be sad anymore.  I felt stillness and a lightness associated with the healing power of time.  I can see that the town and the students will be indelibly affected.  But I also can sense the peace of acceptance that is taking place if only because there is no other road for me to walk.

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