First, thank you to everyone who has posted comments wishing my mother a speedy recovery. She came through the surgery like a champ and is well on her way back to "normal" (whatever that is for anyone). As she said -- it was nice to have her nose straight again. :0) It was great spending time with her and I managed to take a ton of photos to share. I also may have, just may have mind you, done some retail therapy while there -- so I'll have some of that to share as well.
Honestly? Other than having a row of three seats to myself on the plane, my actual travels weren't all that strange. The strange part were the events at home that I missed. (Tink and Mr. Cornfields are fine) The first strange part happened while I was at Mom's -- on Valentine's Day I started getting wierd emails and text messages from friends -- all asking me if I were ok, if I'd heard the news? News? I was on my way back from picking up a late lunch at Sonic Burger -- what news? I mean really -- I live in the cornfields, what in the world can happen in the cornfields?
It turns out -- quite a bit. For those of you who have seen the news, you'll know there was another campus shooting on Valentine's Day at Northern Illinois University. So why all the calls to me? Because I am a part of the NIU community. That's my campus. It's part of my corner of the cornfields. I was lucky, I was nowhere near campus that day. I've been taking some time off from my studies this year, but if I hadn't -- I probably would have been in the thick of it. No, not in the hall where the shootings took place, but in one of the buildings nearby which houses my department and my former offices. When I heard what had happened and turned on the news I was stunned. I still am.
I've been involved with NIU in one way or another for over 20 years now, as a child of a faculty member, an undergraduate student, a staff member, a graduate student, and a graduate assistant/instructor. NIU in many ways has been a home to me. The town that houses it has been part of my home base. Both are good places. They have their faults, don't get me wrong, but it's the type of place where you can go to the local businesses and be greeted by name. Or the post office. It's the type of place where you see folks you've known since you were in Jr. High and they ask about your parents, and your children. And now, it's a little darker. And a little more scary. But ultimately, it's still a good place. It's a good place to learn; it's a good place to live. The actions of one person will not overshadow that.
My heart and thoughts go out to the families of those who lost their lives and to those who were injured. I didn't know any of those killed personally -- but their absence impacts the entire community. For those injured, I wish them a speedy recovery. For those of my friends and colleagues who are busy with trying to put their campus back together so that students can return, my thoughts are with you.