I was…supposed to be in Norris 211
That morning I was in my dorm, East Campbell Hall, sleeping in after a long weekend just a drillfield away from Norris 211 where so many of my classmates hid in fear. Of course, I did not know this at the time. My roommate, Gabby, turned on the TV after she came in from her 8am class, shook me and told me to watch. We sat there suspended and like the rest of the world, we were spectators watching the story unfold as we flipped through every news station to hear the latest assumption of what could be going on across the field. But it might as well have been across the universe. I didn’t even look out my window. It was not until a message finally came through the crossed phone lines from a friend asking if I had gone to class that I realized what was on screen was not across the universe but in my all too familiar 9 am French class…and I was not there. It is not easy to remember because in remembering where I was, I (still) picture where I was not. The dimensions of the room, the plastic orange and maroon seats where classmates generally sat, our beloved professor at the door, the looks I imagine on their faces as the gunshots got closer, and the sounds…What would I have done?
I was fortunate to have my sister just down the road. She came to pick me up so that I could be with her and her roommates. The rest of the day became a mission to find who went to class, who was alive and who was not. I spoke with my parents, who drove down to Blacksburg right away. I briefly communicated with Clay, a friend from class who had gone to class and came out Thank God. Later that evening, there was a convocation in the stadium. I went with my family and fortune put me a few seats away from another classmate and friend of Ross’s, Luke. Clay and Luke became my safety net. The vigil was held just after dark and the sight was overwhelmingly bittersweet. I remember the evening news, where they first called out the names of those who did not make it. Ross was the first. I kept watching although I did not want to. This was the longest day of my life.
Five years later already. I remember the day like a timeline, clearly and at the same time it is all a blur. Through it all, I became closer to my family and met the tightest group of friends without whom I would not have gotten through, and I even met my husband. The first few years were spent not crying, the next few years seemed to be all tears, and now I am just assessing and catching up. I am not finished yet. I have big plans. Often remembering can be such a tough thing to do, but it is the only way to move forward.