Sorrow Spreads Beyond Virginia

Ahc10089This morning began hectic like any other, scrambling to get myself and my daughter ready for work and for school. For breakfast she wanted bacon, something I don't usually have time to fix her, and chocolate milk, something we both enjoy, but that her mother would rather her not start her day off with. I fixed her both.

It felt good just doing something extremely normal, spending a few extra minutes with my little girl in the morning. Who cares if she is a minute or two late for school. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. Through it all, I can't help but dwell on and feel for the parents of Virginia Tech students who will never have that chance again—that chance to fix a meal for their child or share another laugh with them.

The images from the news the night before still haunt me, leaving me feeling sick and hollow, never mind that I don't think I knew any of the kids or the families. You don't have to to feel their pain.

I know a few kids that attend Virginia Tech, though not as many as I used to. I'm getting older now. The school has the best communications program and ag programs in the state, so my career in the media and my hunting life in Virginia have both been filled with friendships and interactions with plenty of the school's alumni. Go to any hunt club in the state, and there's a good bet the room will be a quarter full of VT graduates and current students. Heck, the school's mascot is a muscle-bound gobbler. How cool is that?

I remember playing their team in rugby when I was going to school and playing across the state at ODU, and one late night road trip that led to a hazy nighttime adventure on the campus. Good times...

But the tragedy yesterday has robbed those memories of some of their joy. It will take time to make sense of this, if sense can ever be made of such events. I remember returning to camp in Missouri after a morning of turkey hunting eight years ago, only to learn of a similar shooting at Columbine. The mood was somber throughout camp the rest of the day. What is it about April?

Already the anti-gun and pro-gun voices are bracing for the battle that is sure to come. The sound of the shots had barely died out and rhetoric was already flying on message boards across the web. You could already see the reporters on TV sharpening their accusations.

I'll leave those arguments to others. There will be plenty of time for questions and fighting later. For now, we should just extend our condolences to the university's faculty, staff, students and extended family. We should do whatever we can to help the surviviors heal.

We should hug our own kids and tell them how much they mean to us. Things can change in an instant.

I wanted to talk about turkey hunting today—I'm getting some great reports from around the country—but at the moment, it just doesn't seem as important as bacon, chocolate milk and a few extra minutes with the little one on a rainy, New Jersey morning.