/ #virginia tech shooting #school shooters 

Another Anniversary of the Virginia Tech Shootings

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there. I did not die.

I remember reading this poem in the funeral program for Maxine Turner, one of the students at Virginia Tech who was a victim of the shootings. I can’t believe it’s been nearly ten years. And every year, on this date, I get chills when I think back to that day.

I heard the news while I was at work, working in the mall at the Estee Lauder counter. I thought, wow how horrible. Only a few of my friends went to Virginia Tech, so I didn’t think much that any of the few would actually be harmed. I reached out to some friends and they all told me they were ok.

That night I slaved away on my senior portfolio project, when around midnight one of my high school friends who also went to Tech comes online and tells me that Maxine didn’t make it. What do you mean? I thought. Then she told me Maxine had been one of the ones who died in the shooting.

I felt like throwing up.

I remember seeing Maxine three months before the incident. I went to a James Madison High School Orchestra concert with my sister when we bumped into her after the concert. “Oh it’s so good to see you, this is my sister Sara” I said to her. I feel sad thinking back, that that would be the last time I’d ever see her again.

I knew Maxine from orchestra. She played the violin also. We were in the same orchestra classes since middle school.

Every year after that happened, I would attend the middle school and high school orchestra concerts to watch my sister play her violin. And each year I would see my sister and Maxine’s little brother (who also played the violin) in these concerts. I would see Maxine’s mom video recording the concerts in their middle school. During each one of those concerts I had to run out midway trying to hold back tears, go to the bathroom, and cry in a stall. It didn’t help that pretty much all the songs they were playing in the concerts were songs that we had played in orchestra at that age….and it all just took me back and the memories would pour in. I would get myself together, put on some foundation, and go back and sit in the audience trying to remain calm and collected, whilst distracting myself with my phone.

At her memorial service, I bumped into our orchestra teacher from that era along with a bunch of other people from our orchestra. It was a good funeral. I couldn’t believe how strong and put together her family was. I honestly cannot even imagine what they must have been going through inside. I admire their strength.

Whenever I hear about school shootings, I freak out and have serious thoughts about homeschooling my kids. Especially after Sandy Hook. I can’t even discuss Sandy Hook or I’ll start having panic attacks.

I feel like my kids will have to live in a much more dangerous world than I grew up in. When I was little, there were no school shootings. Kids played outside without supervision. Nowadays, I would never let my kids be outside unsupervised. Maybe having a social work background has made me a bit paranoid….but seriously, there are A LOT of crazy people in this world.

If this social work thing has taught me anything useful, it is- TRUST NO ONE!!! But at the same time….be empathetic toward EVERYONE! Be nice to people even if you don’t like them. Stick up for people who are being bullied. Befriend that quiet odd kid in class who everyone else ignores. Report anything suspicious. You never know, maybe you will unknowingly help prevent the next Columbine.

Anyway, my heart breaks for all victims of any and every school shooting. Especially for the families.

May all the victims rest in peace.

About: Leila Rahmanian and Salar Rahmanian

Leila Rahmanian is married to Salar Rahmanian. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have three wonderful kids, two boys named Valentino Rahmanian and Caspian Rahmanian and a beautiful daughter named Persephone Rahmanian.