Monday, April 16, 2007


I am supposed to be editing but instead, find myself surfing the internet for news about the school shootings at Virginia Tech. I am afraid to turn on the TV to see the endless hours of talking heads bemoaning the horror and endlessly looping the little snippet of footage captured by a student. But it is a horror...a sick, freakish wasteful horror.

This list of fatal school shootings is creepy. It does not mention the 1992 school shooting at my college, Simon's Rock. But whenever I hear about a new one, it all comes flooding back to me in a sickly wash of unpleasant memories: crouching in our dorm room, waiting for the phone to ring, avoiding the windows, not knowing what the hell was going on.

We didn't have cell phones back then, there were no text messages to spread the word. All we knew was that someone was dead...and that the shooter was roaming around loose on campus, and that our housemate Rose was working at the library where the shootings took place.

Molly and I were planning on joining Rose at the library that night. We wanted to pick up a movie to watch. If we had, who knows what would have happened. What might have changed? Who might be dead? Life is so funny that way, a string of meaningless coincidences.

As fate would have it, my Spanish teacher Nacunan Saez was shot and killed on his way into campus that night. Nacunan was a flamboyant man with his initials monogramed onto his hankies. He was a tiny spitfire with European flair and he used to lock us out of class when we were late - which was often, class was every morning at 9am!

Galen Gibson was just a kid when Wayne killed him, a really sweet kid with this wistful smile and an open heart. Everyone loved Galen. Even the shooter, Wayne Lo, who didn't like much of anyone, seemed to get along with Galen. In a school of 300, everyone knows everyone. Galen's dad wrote a book, Goneboy, about the aftermath of his death:

At the beginning of his walkabout, he is driven primarily by anger; getting the facts about the college's apparent failure to prevent his son's murder is really about getting even. ''I would assemble an airtight case against the college and send it to my lawyers or get it published in The New York Times,'' he writes.

Over time, though, his need for retribution fades, and Gibson realizes that no one -- not the college, not the gun store owner, not Wayne Lo's family -- is really deserving of revenge. He writes: ''There had been a shooting. There was a shooter and he was in jail. Everyone else was a victim.'' At that point, the book becomes an end in itself, ''a single thread of purpose'' that gives Gibson the opportunity to process his grief and reclaim his life. -
New York Times by JASON ZENGERLE

Days like today make me remember Nacunan and Galen. I didn't know them intimately and chances are, we wouldn't be in touch today even if they were alive. But I know that if they were still walking around amongst us, they'd be doing wonderful things in the world and having a positive effect on people around them - that's just the kind of people that they were.

So I guess those of us that remain have to work twice as hard to make up for their absence. But it will never, ever make sense. It is insanity.


la-la-lani said...

Oh god, I had forgotten all about the Simon's Rock shootings--and never put it together that you were there at the time. ...I'm so sorry, babe. These must be particularly trying times for you.

xo xo.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

Thanks Miss just makes me so damn wasteful. I finally watched some TV coverage and saw the faces of the dead people and heard their wasteful...

Q_Monroe said...

seems like it keeps getting even more insane. this morning's paper is still giving me the shivers. I'm thankful i don't have TV so I don't have to see the images. ick.