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Reflections on VT

Allison Ambrose | Wednesday, April 18, 2007

They say God is everywhere, in the slums and in the churches and in war and in peace. So I want to think God was there in that French class at Virginia Tech, when students were still tired and blinking from not getting enough sleep the night before, probably wishing it was still the weekend and replaying stories of their drunk friends in their heads – maybe planning who they would go to lunch with that day or when they would go running that afternoon.

I’m sure God was there in the seconds before the first shots rang out. Maybe some teachers joked around and made their students laugh, perhaps a late sleeper tardily jogged into the room and quietly took his seat, maybe someone was texting their boyfriend or girlfriend about getting together that night to do homework. Maybe Cho Seung-Hui paused outside the door to the engineering classroom and asked himself if he was really about to go through with what he planned.

I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was there as the Holocaust survivor blocked the way into his classroom with his body and was thus killed as his terrified students leaped out the windows, and also when a student had the presence of mind to prevent twelve more deaths by shoving a table against the classroom door.

But then Cho lined up and executed the students and teachers. He entered classroom after classroom. He knew exactly what he was doing and must have considered his mission accomplished as he turned the gun around on himself. And then I start to wonder about God.

There’s plenty to be said about Virginia Tech’s lack of response after the first attack, and I’d like to think that Notre Dame would act faster and more efficiently. I would want NDSP swarming the campus, classes cancelled, dorms locked down – more, certainly, than an e-mail.

I want to think that campus and South Bend police would be combing DeBartolo all day long, that my rector would come to my room to make sure I was safe and that I could call home to reassure my mother that I wouldn’t be coming home early this year in a long wooden box.

I don’t want to picture prayer services in the Basilica and at the Grotto, packed with students whose tears run down their faces as they shine in the candlelight. I never want to see the Dome on Fox News with the headline “MASSACRE” running beneath in ugly red and black text, or have to numbly wander downstairs to the chapel to pray with other mourning students, or, worst of all, wait through rampant rumors and unfounded reports to read a list of people whose funerals I’d be attending next week. I can’t imagine my life screaming to a halt like that. But I also can’t imagine that God wouldn’t be there too.

I want to think that I’d have the strength to keep going after my classmates were gunned down, albeit with a terribly sudden knowledge of real pain. But just like the thoughts in Cho’s head, the last emotions of the victims and the dread bubbling up in the hearts of the parents who received calls from Virginia Tech administrators yesterday; I have no idea what it would be like.

But, damn – I can’t ask for anything more than to be left in that kind of oblivion.