In moments like this, the massacre not so far away, it is difficult not to translate the madness into our own terms: I wonder what this will mean to me?
I want to resist that impulse, and grieve in small ways for those who feel the grief most acutely, and for those who can no longer feel grief.
Our institution is not far from VT, and is similar in many way, and many of my students chose this university instead of tech, and I'm guessing a fair number of VT students thought about this place, too. One of my colleagues did his MA there, and his father is still faculty there. I've talked about it in my classes, where my students know people in Blacksburg, where they silently (or not) wonder whether such a thing could happen here.
The answer of course, is yes.
But in moments when I don't have to attend to the immediate anxieties of my students, and when I can put my own aside, I try, silently, to mourn on terms that aren't my own: for the poor student whose pain caused so much more, for those whose lives he took, for their families, for their friends, for the circles and circles that ripple outward until they reach my shores.