the terrible and the wonderful

Many of us who are part of the Virginia Tech family are reflecting on the terrible events that happened this time of year back in 2007. Thirty two friends, colleagues, classmates, fellow Hokies were taken from us by a sick fellow who had too much ready access to guns and ammunition.

As I awoke with the one who holds my heart, I could hear a siren from the nearby firestation, and hear the approach of a helicopter to our little airport here in Texas. The sounds took me back to day, the sirens, helicopters, the feeling of helplessness at not being able to get to the students who were our charges and the shock at learning what happened in Norris Hall. The stories are amazing, students rushing the gunman, faculty holding doors shut with their bodies to give their students extra seconds to jump from windows, incredible heroic acts. But I think mostly we feel the loss.

I left Blacksburg a little over a year later, partly because of that day, the difficulty of walking past the memorial and the site of the shootings and partly to get back to doing what I love. Leaving had its own costs, mostly financial, but had its own rewards too.

It turns out life is pretty wonderful now, today, tempered by the anniversary of the terrible day back in 2007, but pretty wonderful really. My daughters are safe, building their lives, following dreams, excited by possibilities, I’ve met, handed my heart to, and married a wonderful woman of grace and beauty, and I’m teaching what I love to teach. Life wouldn’t be what it is without that terrible day, love wouldn’t be as sweet, my family wouldn’t be as close, and the horizon wouldn’t be as long without that terrible day. I knew people who died that day, its hard to hold back the tears thinking of that day. Maybe its a survival behavior, but i can both grieve and live now.

I know there are families that have much deeper losses, I think of them today, and hope their lives have grown back a little.

There is that old song that’s called “Look for the Silver Lining,” some of the words are
“Look for a silver lining,
whenever a cloud appears in the blue,
remember somewhere the sun is shining,
and so the right thing to do is make it shine for you,
a heart full of joy and gladness,
will always banish sadness and strife,
so always look for the silver lining,
and try to find the sunny side of life.”

I wouldn’t have thought it possible back in 2007 but I think it can happen, something good can come of something bad, we just have to look for it, focus on the good, and see the wonder around us…a first strawberry, a hand holding yours, heroes walking next to you, spring flowers, a new old house, a move, a new job, all there. All happening near you right now, as taps fades in the silence.

Life is a mystery that way.
A baby is born, a tragedy happens, but we go on, loving those near us, and those gone from our sight. We just have to see the good and work to diminish the bad.

Anyway, keep on the sunny side! Honor those you hold in your memory, hold those who are in your heart.

Be good to each other

One Response to “the terrible and the wonderful”

  1. Duncan Abernathy says:

    Well said, Michael. It is good to know your feet are still leaving their marks on this earth, even if they now tread primarily in the Lone Star State. Best wishes to you and your family.

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