I was…in Norris 211
On April 16, 2007 I was in Norris 211. I had trudged across the Drillfield that Monday morning planning on attending my three back-to-back classes and then going back and taking a nap in my dorm. As my classmates trickled in that morning to French class there was mention of how they had been searched at their dorm and cops were everywhere. Then sometime between 9:30 and 9:50am my life changed forever.
The beginning of a Heidi pre-April 16th and a Heidi post-April 16th became a reality. I had no idea what was going on none of it was logical.
Physically I was in that room but in my head I was thinking of all the things I had yet to accomplish.
In those 20 minutes of hell I was not only shot three times in my leg as I attempted to hide and play dead under a metal desk, but smelled, heard, and saw suffering. The surreal scene unfolding around me that day sent my mind on a mental escape route. Physically I was in that room but in my head I was thinking of all the things I had yet to accomplish. I thought about all the places I still wanted to travel, how I wanted to get married, graduate college, get my Master’s, and simply live to see tomorrow. Those were the thoughts racing through my head as three bullets tore through my left leg.
The rest of the day took me on an ambulance ride that seemed short and during which my only reaction was to make myself cry because I didn’t know what else to do. I stared into a paramedic’s eyes and asked them a question I hope does not haunt him to this day, but I made him promise me that I would be okay. I called the only phone number I could recall- my best friend’s home phone where her mom picked up. There is no easy way to tell someone a) you have been shot while attending your French class but will be okay and b) ask them to call your parents and tell them this news.
It was the beginning of the longest journey of my life that I am still on.
My parents and sister arrived in Blacksburg that afternoon before I was taken into surgery. Hyped up on painkillers my calm demeanor was less comforting than I wish it could have been. Seeing your dad choke back tears when that has maybe occurred one other time in your life is terrifying. Watching your mom throw up at the sight of her child in a hospital gown, jaundiced from the loss of blood is only comforting because I was conscious and could verbally tell her then that it didn’t hurt so bad. Hugging your younger sister who at her age should never know these feelings of fear and pain is heartbreaking because I am supposed to protect her from all the hurt and pain not inflict it upon her.
It was the longest day of my life. It was the beginning of the longest journey of my life that I am still on. Post-surgery around 8pm that evening I “went to sleep.” I feared sleep. I had no idea what had just happened or what tomorrow might be like. Instead I turned up VH1 and let the sounds and ridiculously frivolous nature of pop culture lull me to sleep and protect me from the harsh reality that became my life.