Monday, August 29, 2005 changed my life. As Katrina hit New Orleans, I knew my job at LSU would never be the same but had no idea of the impact it would have on my life.
In the weeks that followed, we volunteered, we changed our work patterns, we helped where we could. What I wasn’t ready for was how we get back to normal.
Two weeks and several cancelled back to school events later, my supervisor and I were in a heated argument about programming and when it was okay to return to normalcy. It wasn’t an easy conversation and I’m thankful to Steven for the challenging time. It may not have been pleasant at the time, but it has since framed my outlook on student affairs.
That said, today I find myself in a similar situation.
At 2:50pm yesterday, I found myself a block away from the second detonation site during the Boston Marathon attack. As I heard the first explosion, my fingers furiously typed text messages to my boyfriend and my family, letting them know I was okay (at the time, no one knew anything… my poor parents were so confused). Seconds later, the second explosion left us all in a momentary stunned silence. As the crowd ran in different directions, I slowly moved through the streets, looking for my students running the marathon who I knew were only minutes away on the road. Herded in different directions, we did the best we could, listening to the police (and later the National Guard) as they tried to maintain order in the worst of situations. My ability to text ended soon after, leaving Facebook and Twitter my only means of communication.
I never found my team of runners who I was trying to cheer on, but I knew they were away from the blast. What I didn’t know was who was impacted by the explosions… and which of my students were there. Thank god, all seven injured are physically going to be okay.
But now what? How do you proceed with care and compassion to those who are afraid for their safety? To those who are mourning a loss of innocence? To those who may be triggered by a word and experience post-traumatic stress?
Do you cancel events? How do you modify?
How do we go back to normal?
Today, it remains clear to me – People come first.
Programs and events will alter and evolve but people need to be cared for, people need to know they’re loved.
My brain goes back to the book/movie Contact –
“See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
Go hug someone today for no reason. Because all we have is each other.