Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dear Readers,

  I have always been a huge fan of Valentine's Day. As most people think it is a 'Hallmark Holiday', I look at is as a day where you really get to appreciate loved ones. As you should all year round, this day is really special. It's one that is nationwide and everyone seems to be in good spirits on the day of love. Well, until last year...One year ago on Saturday, a tragedy entered my life and the world around me in my school community. If you are unsure of what I am speaking of, it is the shooting at Northern Illinois University. Allow me to tell the story, through my eyes.

 Thursday, February 14, 2008:

   I was student teaching at a local elementary school. I loved what I was doing and completely appreciating the experience. We were able to dress down that day, to celebrate the holiday. I was not seeing the kiddies that day, for I was in meetings with other staff members. The meeting had just adjourned at 3:30(ish) and I was preparing my lessons for the next day. Word came to the office that there had been a shooting. The speaker grabbed my interest and being a person of details, I naturally asked for more. He had said it occured at NIU. 'NIU?!?!?!', I thought. Was he sure? Was this a rumor? I immediately went to the website and in fact, my worst thought had become reality. My heart sank and I begin to tremble. I immediately thought about my friends who still live on campus. My cooperating teacher allowed me to get home to contact everybody. In the mean time, my phone was ringing off the hook with fellow friends and family members checking in for my safety. It all seemed like a dream, a BAD dream. It truly had not hit me until it was on every news channel. When I saw the campus on television, wrapped in yellow tape, emergency vehicles, people sobbing, blood shed, I began to cry. You see, what most people do not know is where it all happened was footsteps of where I used to live on campus. In fact, my window faced Cole Hall. One of my favorite things to do to relieve my stress of homework is to look out the window and people watch. The same very sight that brought me serenity, now has brought me to tears. I was devastated and inconsolable. ' How could this happen?', I thought over and over. 'Why NIU?'
   What really helped me understand and begin to heal was when I visited campus on February 16th, the Saturday after the tragedy occurred. My heart was broken, I was broken. I was filled with sorrow. The very sight of Cole Hall made my stomach churn. The tears rolled down my face uncontrollably. I visited all the mini memorials, read all the uplifting messages and saw my fellow classmates just as devastated as I was. My thoughts, feelings, tears, sorrow were all validated at that moment. When it was time to head home, I knew it was time to begin healing. 

  Here it is, a year later. I think about February 14th, 2008 on a daily basis. As I was not there physically, I certainly was there spiritually. There is a special place in my heart for the five innocent angels whose lives were taken on that day. I pray for them. I pray that they are now in a better place. 

  NIU is hosting a memorial on campus on Saturday. I plan on attending. There is nothing more powerful than to stand with the community and bond in prayer. We all were affected by this tragedy, now we all stand together as we move forward. 

  PS- Happy Valentine's Day !