Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our visit to Virginia Tech

Logan and I went to Virginia Tech this weekend. I decided Friday night that I wanted to go down. The fraternity I was a little sister in (Theta Xi) was having an alumni get together this weekend; it was scheduled before everything happened and they decided to go ahead with it. I wasn’t originally going to go but decided I really needed to see other Hokies and the campus.

We left the house at 8 am to make the 6 hour drive. This was a big deal for us as we rarely are out of bed before 10. Logan was great during the drive, he didn’t even need to watch any DVDs, he just listened to music with me and looked out the window. I guess with all the traveling we do, 6 hours isn’t that big a deal.

When we got to Blacksburg we went straight to the fraternity house for the get together. It was so great seeing people I hadn’t seen in 15 years! I’m ashamed it has taken me this long to get back in touch, I haven’t been to a fraternity function since I’ve graduated. I go back to Tech every summer but haven’t made a fraternity event. Some of the people I saw this weekend meant a lot to me when I was in college and I let them slip away after I graduated. It is so sad that it took something like this happening to motivate me to get back in touch!

Logan and I spend almost 5 hours at the house visiting. There was another 7 year old boy there that Logan hit it off with instantly. They spent many hours playing in the sand of the volleyball court. They also played volleyball with some of the brothers until Logan got hurt. He never got bored and was disappointed when it was time to leave (I was too).

After we left the house we went to campus. I wasn’t sure if we were going to go to campus when we went to Blacksburg. I wasn’t sure I was ready to handle it. However, all the reports from people that had been to campus said most of the media had left and it was pretty much just Hokies there. We were able to find a parking space right on the drillfield and walked around for over an hour.

It was extremely emotional! There are memorials set up all over the drillfield. In the middle of the drillfield are large boards for people to write messages on. I’m not sure if there was one for each victim or not, but there were a lot of them.

By the chapel, they had a small memorial set up with candles that were burning.

Also in that area were books to write messages in and large cloth banners that children were putting handprints on and signing their names. Logan signed his name on the banner and I left a message in the book.

On the other side of the drillfield were set up orange bulletin boards for people to leave mementos, things like pom-poms, football tickets, pictures etc.

On the edge of the drillfield closest to Burress, up against the wall that is there, they had set up individual memorials for each victim. There were flowers and pictures and messages and gifts for each victim.

These were arranged in a half circle coming out from the wall and in the middle up against the wall was a huge combined memorial with messages from other schools and tons of flowers.

There was a long line to walk by all the individual memorials, this was the hardest part of the visit. Everyone was silent walking by each mound and many people were crying, including myself. Looking up and seeing Burress and then looking down and seeing the offerings was somehow extra emotional.

Walking around campus there were little memorials everywhere. Most of them weren’t for anyone in particular just reminders wherever you went of what had happened. Very few people were anywhere near the building, they had police tape surrounding it and you couldn’t get anywhere near it. Most people were on the drillfield focusing on the victims and not focusing on the scene.

It was interesting walking around the drillfield, the memorials were all on the edges and when you went to those areas it was very quiet, everyone was in their own thoughts. However, in the middle of the drillfield, people were listening to music and playing frisbee, basically doing normal drillfield activities. I thought this juxtaposition was appropriate. While we are all grieving over what happened, life does go on and we need to focus on the joy of the life we have as much as possible.

It was a long, tiring weekend as well as emotionally exhausting but I’m so glad I went! I wish I had gone down earlier in the week to be there to help with support. Many people were giving out ribbons, or food, or bows to tie on trees. It felt that those things were comforting for most there and I wish I had been part of giving that comfort.

What was most important is I discovered that what my friend Jon said when he returned from his visit to campus is true for me also, “It still feels like home.”

"We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech."
--Nikki Giovanni


Deanne said...

Thank you for sharing this, Christy. The outpouring of love and support...all the memorials and flowers, they are tangible signs to me of the "triumph of spirit" (to borrow a friend's words ;) ) over tragedy.

Paige said...

Christy, I read about your visit over on the Shine list, and I just wanted to say thank you for posting your pics, and your thoughts about this tragedy. I went to Radford (only from 91-93), and live in the Shenandoah Valley, so it's very "close to home" for us. Your words and pictures lifted me up in a way that no "media" coverage ever could. Thanks you.

Wendy said...

Thank you for the very personal look at the tragedy. I really appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. It was wonderful of you to share the experience with Logan, as well.

Danielle said...

I'm so glad to hear you followed your heart and went to visit. I'm pretty sure I told you that my great aunt was one of the first women to graduate from VT. My uncle is also an alum, and I plan to forward this link to him. I know he'll be interested in the photos and the news.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this very moving experience with us. I'm so glad you and Logan went. I am so happy about the tremendous outpouring of love and support.


Christy said...

Thank you everyone for the comments and support! It was a healing trip for us and I hope hearing about it helped you all heal some too.