Continuing with my “Week of Remembrance” series, today, April 16, marks seven years since the massacre at Virginia Tech that took the lives of 33 students and teachers.
Every year on this day, I have attempted to write a tribute to one of the victims I knew from high school, Leslie Sherman. As I look back on all that I’ve written over the last seven years, I still feel as though no words are accurate, nor do they really portray the effect her death has had on my life. As the years have gone by, time has helped to heal the wound and stop the tears, but it has not helped to heal the scar that still remains, and probably will be there as long as I live.
To do something different this year, I went back to something I wrote and posted on Facebook (of all places, but that’s what we did back then!) the day after the shooting took place, and I wanted to share it again because this shows how raw my 19-year-old self felt the following day.
Yesterday, I could not believe it when I saw it. “21 Dead at Virginia Tech shooting” read the headline. Minutes later, that number on the headlines jumped to 32. How could this be? And just to any school in the United States, it had to be in a school where many of my fellow classmates from elementary and high school, and friends attended. Immediately, my reaction was to call or write to everyone I knew on here to see if they were all right. I knew that the chances of any of them being hurt were slim in a school of nearly 26,000, but hoped that there was no one on my list of just 21 Facebook friends there at Virginia Tech was killed.
Until last night, once I returned from class, I saw it on here and immediately tears started pouring from my eyes. How can one person take the lives of so many innocent people, let alone someone that I knew as so smart, funny, and wonderful? Even though it has been almost four years since I last saw Leslie, my memories of her in high school have not faded quickly. I have a picture of us together on the last day that I saw her (Katee, it was at your goodbye party at the Embassy Suites in Old Town) and it tears me apart to think that none of us knew that in less than four years, she would be shot in the worst killing spree in the history of this country. God had her days numbered, just as He does for the rest of us. He knew that on that day those people’s lives would be taken from such a sick individual. I praise God that no one else that I knew of had their lives taken yesterday, and I am thankful that each and every one of you are safe and okay as I type this!
It also tears me apart to think that this is the third person from my class at West Springfield who has died. [sic] I don’t think we will ever understand here on earth why God would allow such a terrible thing to happen and allow so many innocent lives to be taken. But the saying that my mom quotes whenever something like this happens is so true: “You are invincible until God calls you home.”
My heart goes out to all of you there at Virginia Tech and know that I am praying for you guys so much. I know a lot of people here at my campus all the way in Orlando are praying for you all as well. You all have so much support from everyone in the nation, and even the world. Know that God is with you ALWAYS, He will never leave your side no matter what. Turn to Him for your comfort and your strength in this tremendous time of need. He will NEVER let you down. Also remember this verse that rings true so well in this time of need: “Though He brings grief, He WILL show compassion, for GREAT is His unfailing love.” (Lamentations 3:32, emphasis mine)
May God bless every student there in Virginia Tech, the entire Blacksburg community, and last but not least, the families of the victims. [sic] may God bless West Springfield High School and all of the people in it. You all are still so dear to my heart!