I had never lived through a mass shooting before Monday, but I thought about them all the time. Less than two weeks before February 13th, I visited the Wharton Center for the first time, and as the lights went down, I was paralyzed with anxiety, thinking about what a perfect environment it would be, how little security there was when I walked in. Nothing happened that day. I enjoyed the show and got to walk back to Abbot and tell my roommate about it in peace. But these things have been drilled into our heads for years now, and it always seemed almost like just a matter of time.
My roommate and I were in for the night when we got the first alert. I remember getting up from my desk and texting my mom, letting her know about the alert and that I was okay but wanted her to hear about it from me first. The news must have traveled fast, because other people got to me before I could text them. I didn't want to let anything go unanswered for too long, worried that they would assume the worst (I would if I were them).
My roommate and I turned out our lights, shut the blinds, and closed ourselves in the little bathroom of our apartment space on the very first floor of Abbot, all but holding our breath to keep from making noise. For four hours, we texted friends and family, constantly checking in with our people at MSU. Two of my friends from high school back in my home state listened in on the scanner and gave us updates, one of them staying up until 5 AM to keep us up to date because of a time difference. It was horrifying, but I'll be grateful to those friends for the rest of my life.
I wasn't able to go home afterward, and I still haven't seen my parents. I saw campus as a ghost town, sat on the bus all alone, ate at a dining hall with only around 20 other students. I spent time with a small handful of people I care about. It was the only thing I could even pull off; couldn't read, couldn't listen to music, couldn't sleep. It's still the only thing I can really clearly focus on.
I know time will help and I'll be able to do more again eventually, but right now it feels like this will be the rest of my life. I hope anyone reading this who feels that way knows that it isn't true and that, while it will always be with us, we will be able to live in other moments. Everyone heals differently, so maybe it will take us longer than we'd like, but there is another side to this thing. I'm going to hold my people tighter going forward.