Ten Years

Ten years.

I know most people are celebrating Easter today, but that’s not at all what this day means to me. Every year, April 16 is marked on my calendar, marked in remembrance of 32.

10 years ago today, 32 people got up and got ready for their day – going to class, going to teach, hanging out in their rooms. 10 years ago today, those 32 people never got up again. I’m in disbelief it’s been that long.

I’ve talked about it before, but I am one of the lucky ones. I had already graduated and was 4 hours away from campus. My close friends were all safe. All my sorority sisters were accounted for. But despite that, this day just drags up memories for me. Memories I’ll never forget.The moment I finally saw what was happening on the news. The moment I started calling my friends in a panic, trying to get in touch with them – smartphones were in their infancy and no one could get through on the phone. I will never forget being glued to the news at work, in disbelief of what was happening. I was working at an enterprise branch inside a hotel, and the closest TV was in the hotel workout area directly across from us. I can still feel the texture of the treadmill I sat down and cried on.

The moment I finally saw what was happening on the news. The moment I started calling my friends in a panic, trying to get in touch with them – smartphones were in their infancy and no one could get through on the phone. I will never forget being glued to the news at work, in disbelief of what was happening. I was working at an enterprise branch inside a hotel, and the closest TV was in the hotel workout area directly across from us. I can still feel the texture of the treadmill I sat down and cried on.

I remember the days after, our community reeling from what happened, but still being ourselves. I remember watching the candlelight vigil, the placement of hokie stones that became a permanent memorial. I have a photo of the vigil hanging in my house.

I remember visiting on the first anniversary and being struck by how much was the same and how much was different. We are still the same Hokies we always were, but we’ll never forget those we lost.

A lot has changed for me, personally, in the last 10 years. I dated and married my husband, then had two children. My little sisters, elementary and middle schoolers at the time, grew up and went to college themselves. One of them is a Hokie too.

I know the day will come when I have to explain this day to Abbie, and then Ella. When I have to explain why I insist on Hokie colors today, why I wear a ribbon, why I am sometimes sad on this day. But it’s important to teach her all the lessons we’ve gained from tragedy. To teach her that we are better and stronger as a community than we ever are alone. To teach her that those struggling with mental health need help. To teach her the value of being part of the Virginia Tech family, since whether she attends or not, she’s a member by birth.

10 years. I wonder what the victims would be doing today, and realize that I am now closer in age to the professors that perished than the students. Who would they be? Would they be married, or have kids? Would they be changing the world in other ways? We’ll never know. The only thing we know is that we can’t forget them, and that we can’t forget to be Hokies.

 

“We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.”

About Jess

About Jess

Jess Beer is a full-time working mom of two girls who writes about motherhood, wellness, easy meals and style.

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I’m Jess! I’m a working mama of two sweet sisters living in the DC area. This is my space to share inspiration, real stories of working motherhood, recipes, style, and more! I can’t start my day without coffee and always try to show the real side of motherhood – the good and the challenging. I’m so glad you’re here – thanks for following along on my journey!

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