A beginning… an end

Monday marked an important day for many people here at TAMU. At 2:42 A.M. there was a candelight vigil at the bonfire memorial to remember those who died and those who were injured when the stack collapsed. I spent sunrise monday at the memorial, trying to capture the sentiments of those who left flowers, notes, and momentos. Hoping to communicate with those who passed? Seeking to honor those who were injured? I couldn’t help but think of those who were uninjured, who were struck numb at the sights and sounds that night, who scrambled, clawing through the stack trying to reach those trapped under tons of trees. I worry about those people. They survived, but couldn’t save their friends. The hours that followed must have been filled with desperation, fear, then resignation. The worst had happened.

This is all to clear to me as I stand on the site of the memorial. Our family, my daughter is doing something very similar today. Standing in a courtroom, alone at a podium, being shouted at by the family of the accused. Yet, like those who survived the collapse of the stack, she stood firm, fighting off the feeling to flee, needing to honor a friend by standing fast, speaking with conviction, deliberation, while searching for a truth. She did this for Tyler, his family, his friends. It would have been possible to pass this cup to the police to find a conviction, a just sentence, but she stood firm, for him.

As i stood in the memorial, I was wishing I was in Richmond but knew she had said to stay, that this was hers to complete. I couldn’t protect her from it that night in the park, who knows why the gun jammed and the second shot was never fired her way. Fate? Luck? Karma? God? I thank them all. But cannot even write about the loss of Tyler without coming apart.

I’ve written about heroes among us before. I believe it is true. As I walked from the memorial Monday, the groundskeepers were trimming, the parking enforcement women were looking carefully at cars in the lot, commuters were walking by, students riding along. I couldn’t help but see a Mom who didn’t eat so her children had breakfast, a man who swallows his pride to keep a job to pay tuition, a daughter going to class to honor a parent in the hospital. All heroes really, its a world filled with selfless people who routinely get overshadowed by the selfish and what i’m hoping is that you’ll see that we need to be kind to them all, because at first glance, you can’t tell who the person is that will run from the fire around you, and who will run into the fire to save you. You really can’t tell, and if you ask them, they won’t know until they do it that they had it in them.

When you get the honor of meeting them, acknowledge their gift, honor their act, even if they can’t accept it. Say your thanks and move on.

So the family ordeal is half over. One more trial, two more hearings and my daughter will be…not free, not moving on, but she’ll be able to make her loss a more integral part of life. I’m hoping for the same. To be able to walk through a memorial without tears, to be able to thank a hero without my voice breaking.

It could happen.

Anyway, Monday is passed, the problems of the week are upon us all. We all struggle to be civil to people who’s passions have eroded their own civility, but do what you can to return frustration with kindness, you never know who you’re talking to.

Take Care,
Be good to each other.

One Response to “A beginning… an end”

  1. tacousar says:

    wow, Mike, I’ve just been reading your last four or five entries…..you’re really examing yourself and your world….love the “barrel” analogy.
    Was wondering if you’ve made plans to go to VA for Christmas or vice versa, or if we could talk you into hanging out in Chi-town for the holiday. You’re more than welcome to stay at our house! Hopefully Jeff’s knee
    will be much better (he had knee replacement surgery on 11/7) and
    we’ll be able to go Christmas-tree shopping sometime in the next
    couple of weeks…. I personally would love to see you and talk about a few things and I know the rest of the gang would enjoy seeing you too…let me know!

Leave a Reply