(Warning, this post isn't all hearts and roses...)Valentines Day, a day all about love, but what a girls holiday...it's true. I'm sure guys don't like it very much. It's always about chocolate and flowers (I'd definitely prefer flowers over chocolate)...what do guys like/want? Anyway...our first Valentines Day was the cutest thing, and I really wish I would have taken a picture! We had only been together for a few months, still in college in the dorms, neither of us had a car, so I thought we'd be spending a nice romantic dinner in the dining hall! :) The night before, Tim told me that we were going to dinner somewhere the next night, and he told me what time to be ready by. I had no idea where we were going, how we were getting there, what to wear (wouldn't tell me if it was fancy or not!), or what to expect...it drove me nuts, I think Tim loved that part. I debated all day long with what to wear, I didn't want to be over/under-dressed, so I tried to go right in between. Finally, it was time to go, and so I met Tim in the lobby of my dorm. He was holding a bouquet of red roses and was dress so nicely; black dress pants, a gray collared shirt and a black tie--it was the most I had ever seen him dressed up, I was so impressed! I still had no idea how we were getting to wherever we were going, but I assumed he had it all planned out. We went outside, to his friend Torry's car--she was kind enough to drive us around, with the company of Tim's two other friends. We went out to dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant, while Torry and the other 2 friends went to Steak & Shake until we were done. Then, they came to pick us up and we went back to Steak & Shake all together and had milkshakes, definitely a fun night! It was so cute! :)
Exactly one year later, on February 14th, Tim and I experienced something many people our age, or many people in general shouldn't have to go through. Tim was coming to one of my classes with me in a huge lecture hall to try to make some guy in my class quit talking to me. We got to the building a little bit early, so we were just sitting on the benches in the hallway outside the lecture hall. Out of nowhere, we heard a loud, short BANG coming from inside the lecture hall, then there was a pause, then several BANGS in a row. My initial thought was the first sound was a door slamming, but after hearing the ones after, it hit me...gunshots. Tim shot up before me, realizing what it was first, and I got up as quick as I can after him to RUN. Several people were running out of the back of the lecture hall screaming as we were leaving the building. We ran together all the way across campus as police cars and ambulances were speeding the opposite direction. There were people outside in just their t-shirts and pants who ran from the lecture hall. Many students were just getting out of class at the time from other buildings who had no idea what was going on, so we had to let them know not to go to that side of campus. We had no idea how many shooters there were, if they were just in the one building or if they were going to run all over campus; it was terrifying. Tim and I stood in the same spot, where we ran to, for quite a while before we felt it was safe enough to start heading back to my dorm or Tim's apartment. Finally, when we felt it was safe, we took the long way back to my dorm first. Luckily, there were police everywhere so we felt safe walking back, but it was still scary not knowing exactly what was going on, so many unknowns. Security was tight when we came to my dorm, and they were reluctant to let Tim come in with me because he didn't live there, but thankfully they did. We went upstairs to my room, and my parents were trying to call me, but the phone lines were so crazy at the time, my calls kept getting dropped. I was able to tell my mom that I was OK, and that I'd talk to her later. I gathered up a few of my belongings, and Tim and I walked several blocks to his apartment, further away from campus. We wanted to get as far away from campus as possible at the time.
|February 15th, 2008|
The story was all over the news; six people were killed in Cole Hall that afternoon, including the gunman who took his own life. I was able to talk to my parents later in the evening when things slowed down a little bit. It really was so surreal. I kept replaying it over and over in my head, I couldn't believe what really just happened literally just on the other side of the wall in that building. Tim and I talked that night, getting all of the "what if's" out. What if he would have waited 15 more minutes and done it during my class? What if you didn't come to class with me and I was alone? What if he came out of the classroom and into the hallway chasing people?....We just talked all night and got it all out. I don't know what I would have done if Tim wasn't with me that afternoon, I was glad (and I don't like to use that word, but I think you understand) that we went through such a horrible thing together because we knew what the other person was feeling.
The following day, there was a Vigil held on campus for the people who lost their lives. (Tim and I went together where this picture was taken.) It felt like a sense of closure to attend the vigil and pay our respects. Many people left campus (it was closed for a week after), but we both felt the need to stay around the area. We didn't want to 'run away' from it. I felt that I needed to deal with it at my own pace, and going to stay with my parents would have just been awkward for me, so Tim and I stayed together that week and tried to go about our lives with work and homework. Going back to class after having that week off was tough, but it felt like the right thing to do; it was time, I was ready. NIU had crisis counselors available for anyone who needed to talk. Most of my teachers eased us back into the whole class routine again and were extremely understanding of students who were still having a hard time.
I didn't know anyone that was killed that day, but I know I will never forget those few minutes when it happened and what I felt over the next couple days. Even when writing this, my heart started beating faster just thinking about those first scary minutes.
I'm sorry to post such a sad story, but it's getting close to that day again and my mom was talking to me about it today, saying how she couldn't believe that was 3 years ago already. So, on Monday, February 14th this year, please support our Huskies by wearing your NIU gear or just some red and black.....and tell those people in your life that you love them, because that's what Valentine's Day is all about, right? <3