Remembering Virginia Tech 4.16.07

Last year on this day, I wrote a memorial post to mark the sad anniversary of the tragedy that occurred during my daughter’s second year as a student at Virginia Tech. The Ways We Remember, Those We Cannot Forget details more from April 16 and the days that followed.

When we moved into April a few weeks ago, I noticed my daughter had changed her profile picture on Facebook from her regular photo to the image below. It is familiar to many associated with Virginia Tech and the one I have seen most often in the three years since the Virginia Tech shootings.

After seeing the change on April 1, I asked her about it when we spoke later that day. I usually switch to the same image on my Facebook profile a few days before the anniversary, but never so early as the beginning of the month and I wondered why she had changed hers so far in advance. Miranda told me in so many words that in the month of April, the anniversary is always at the forefront of her thoughts so she wanted to note the significance for her.

When I hung up the phone, I considered that while most people were celebrating spring and new beginnings, she was remembering the day when so many died. It saddens me to think that this will likely always be a rite of spring for her. I wish there was something I could do to change that, but it is beyond my control as are so many things for parents when children grow into their independent selves.

Miranda is generally pretty quiet when it comes to that day. When people ask about it, she is polite and almost matter of fact. She tends to keep her feelings to herself. I imagine these kids, now adults walking around like war vets in a way … only really discussing that day with people who were there and lived through it too. As a mom who believes in the healing power of conversation it is difficult for me to stand back and wait to give comfort when needed, although I smile as I think, I am always at the ready.

I take comfort in how she chooses to honor the memory of those no longer living with her desire to risk more and live more fully for those who lost that opportunity on 4.16.07. I didn’t know she felt that way until I saw something she had posted on Facebook the other day that suggested that sentiment as a way to remember those who died.

I understand that thought completely as it is something I have tried to do when grieving the loss of friends and family who died too young. It gives me some measure of peace to see that we share a similar idea because I know it has been a source of comfort for me when I could not understand the why of premature death. I cannot think of a better memorial for those lost than a life well lived when searching for ways to honor those we can never forget.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Virginia Tech 4.16.07

  1. Beautiful post, Elizabeth, and I well remember the one you wrote a year ago (hard to believe it’s been that long already, sigh).

    Recently I read an interview in a writing magazine with a woman who wrote a memoir about her life and the impact of her daughters’ actions therein. There was an insight that struck me — in my words, something about –as parents, we need to realise/accept that certain experiences, as much as they are ‘ours’ in terms of the impact of our children’s reactions on us, are at the core THEIRS — something that is their story, their experience, theirs to tell, not ours … for me in many ways, this was enlightening … and liberating — I guess we can suffer on behalf of our children, we can hurt and ache for them, but as you have eloquently expressed yourself, we cannot erased their pain or ‘control’ what happens to them.

    Thinking of you and Miranda on this day. xxoo

  2. Thank you for wise words. I have nothing like that to witness my daughters going through, but all the same life holds tragedies and trauma for everyone some way, sometime during the course of a lifetime, and to live a life fully is the only way to make any sense of living. Much comfort can be derived from different ways of respecting and remembering, and to feel sad, authenically also has its own beauty and serenity, and heightens awareness to others and beauty.

  3. What an awful day that was (and all I did was hear it on the news!). And most of us have kind of almost forgotten it, filed it away . . .when too many people, like your daughter, are still living with it and always will. Thanks for the reminder. A special prayer for the families of the victims and survivors these days surrounding the anniversary.

  4. This was one of those horrible and incomprehensible events that none of us will every forget, even those like me who knew no one personally on the VT campus that day. As hard as it is me, I know it was profoundly more intense for the students like your daughter, and their parents like you. And of course even more so for the victims’ loved ones. Why do these things happen, and how do we just go on with our lives? I know after 9/11 I didn’t think things would ever be the same again. How could we just get on with our lives after such tragedy? I really like your final sentence of the post – I know you have thought long and hard about this, and I think you are right.
    I am sorry for the pain Miranda (and you) feels and will always feel, but remembering and living purposefully has to help.
    Thank you for writing about it, and for directing us to your post last year about it (which I had not seen). Very moving – both posts – and helpful.
    Prayers for all who are suffering with the pain of this event, always, but more so on the anniversary.

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