June 1, 2016.
Whole school on lockdown.
These are the words that filled my news feeds and text messages this morning as I sat in my final Econ lecture (hopefully ever). I felt helpless sitting in my desk just listening to my professor talk about the 2008-09 recession. I could not help but repeatedly refresh my news feeds, looking for any and every update on what the heck was happening at UCLA.
I immediately texted a friend to make sure he was okay. He replied in the next minute or so, but it was one of the most stressful ninety seconds of my life. Luckily, he was a good ways away from the building where the student was roaming. I learned after class from a plethora of Facebook posts that the other acquaintances I have at UCLA were all safe. Thankfully.
The official story says the event was a murder suicide, shooter an engineering student getting his PhD and the shootee a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, William Klug. It all occurred within a few hours: on lockdown sometime around 10 am, off lockdown by 12:45 pm.
While all this was going down, I heard from multiple Cal Poly students that there was an armed person in our library. My first thought was that this was happening all over the state in public universities. Administration quickly shut down the rumors by having the police search the enitre library and sending out an email and text assuring our safety. Maddie was there while they were searching, and she told us not to worry. After that briek period of panic, being a sitting duck in my lecure hall, I returned to worrying about those in Westwood.
Like always, we do not appreciate what we have in life until it is gone–or until we almost lose it. This professor will not get to go home to his children, and they will not quite understand what is happening at first. They will not grasp their father not being able to tuck them into bed anymore or coach them in Little League. He did not wake up this morning with the intention to be shot and killed, so he probably was not thinking about his last words to his family. A routine “I love you” and out the door, maybe. He means it, obviously, but that’s just it: it is routine, almost as if unthinking.
Because of these tragic incidents, I am incredibly grateful for all the wonderful people in my life. I try to express my gratitude in some sort of way as often as I can, like eating dinner on rocky ground with my “spooky” friends for Lo’s birthday and trying to watch the sunset (only all we got was fog). Those little moments spent laughing at old memories and wildly predicting new ones matter.
There only being two victims is definitely better than having more casualties, but it is no less sad or upsetting–or unsettling. Two victims that had whole lives ahead of them, cut short by a poor coping mechanism.
My heart goes out to their families, and I am praying that they find peace. This event makes me want to hug my friends and family a little tighter and thank them a little extra for everything they do for me. I would not be here without their love and support. There is always someone out there to remind you why this is all worth it: why we go to such great lengths to push forward when life gets hard, why we bulldoze through challenges to succeed, why we must be there for our loved ones as they have been there for us.
June 1, 2016.
Rent is due. Sorority dues must be paid. Marilyn Monroe would have been ninety. Lauren turned twenty. I had my last Econ lecture.
And a shooting at UCLA to remind me that life is short and precious and we must live wholly, not just rolling with the motions.