I checked the date on the paper, the one that we both share a piece of the front page.
It hasn’t quite been a year, but it feels like it’s been longer.
I never got the text alert, the one telling the entire campus to stay away from your location.
I guess that is how I managed to walk across the street from you, oblivious to what was happening.
It was a bit chilly that November day, and I wasn’t feeling well.
I walked with my head down, trying to will away the nausea that had been causing me to vomit all morning. Everyone assured me that it would go away once I reached the second trimester.
I watched the autumn leaves as they danced around in circles on the ground and were carried into the air by the Oklahoma wind.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flash of red and blue light as my attention was drawn to the herd of ambulances surrounding the dormitory.
I looked around with concern.
Had someone been hurt? Did we have a dangerous suspect on campus?
Adrenalin began pumping through my veins as I surveyed the campus without seeing the source of the commotion.
I spotted a circle of students, pointing up. Some were laughing, some were taking pictures with their phones, some shouted profanities, and others fell to their knees in prayer.
I followed the direction of their pointing up to you.
My heart sank.
As you sat there on the ledge of the 12th floor of the tower, I knew.
I heard, through bystanders, that you’d shattered the window to get to the ledge and had been sitting there, but no one knew how long.
I needed to get to my next class, but I was worried.
I don’t know you from Adam, but I do know what it is like to have a child. As a mother, my heart broke for you and your mother. To see your child in pain is one of the worst afflictions to ever be endured.
As I walked away, I heard a group of students begin chanting.
“Jump! Jump! Jump!”
I felt tears stream from my eyes as Luke 23:34 filled my mind.
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
When I arrived at my class across campus, you were the talk of the classroom.
I’ve never seen such blatant disregard for human life.
As they speculated, made jokes and laughed, I heard one other student voice concern for you.
I laid my head down on the round, white table and prayed for a miracle.
Less than half an hour later, I found myself inside an ambulance.
I don’t remember the professor calling 9-1-1, or the EMTs coming into the classroom. I barely remember being loaded into the ambulance.
As I lay in the stretcher, watching the IV in my arm push fluids into my body, the EMTs radio interrupted the somber silence.
I became more aware of my surroundings as the portable radio cracked and sputtered. I realized the updates coming through were about you.
The EMT grimaced and said, “It’s been a busy day on campus.”
You hadn’t come down yet by the time I reached the hospital.
The next day I heard you had been persuaded to come down. I was happy for you, but I knew that what you had seen and heard from the crowd of your peers would be with you forever. I hoped you would have some time to heal and get the help you needed without the public being involved.
Two days later, I picked up a paper as I was leaving campus.
They published your picture, sitting on top of the ledge. As I read further, there was identifiable information about you. I was so angry for you.
Then, I saw my ambulance ride had been documented as well.
I spoke with a professor who pleaded on our behalf. He did all he could to protect us and get the paper to remove the identifiable information. There were others that went to the paper on your behalf.
Though we have only shared the front page of a school paper, I want you to know I still think about you often. I am sorry for what you endured at the hands of our peers. I am sorry for the people who were cruel to you in what was your darkest hour.
I know it can’t be easy, moving on after your tribulation became public. I know you are probably treated differently now, by everyone. They may keep a closer eye on you. I know that must get annoying.
I know that nothing can change the cruelty you saw that day, but I hope you know there were people who cared.
I will probably never see you again, but I hope you are okay.
New Crunchy Mom