Today, we woke up to overcast skies and rain after a week of straight sunshine. It’s as if the world knew that something was wrong and was mourning with us.
Last night, we lost a member of our collegiate community: a sweet friend, an aspiring academic, a loving proctor for Atwood, and a shining light in our lives. Willie, we are hurting hard, and we miss you so much. It doesn’t feel real. It can’t be, right? Our Atwood family spent the majority of last night on third floor: holding, crying, and comforting each other. This afternoon, we gathered in OID to share our favorite memories and to laugh and cry together, following which we had a larger celebration of your life with the entire campus. And if there’s one thing that came from it all: you are so loved, Willie, and what an impact you have made on every community you’ve been a part of. Thank you for that.
I’m at a loss for words. It is incomprehensible to me that in the last eight months, our tiny campus has lost two of its own to tragic events. My heart feels broken, and the sadness won’t stop hitting in concentrated waves. It’s not fair that life is so fleeting. I cannot make sense of it. It’s not fair that our lives are so busy and bogged down with work that only something of this magnitude allows us to put the brakes up and really be with each other. One thing I’ve learned from recent tragedies: right now, and always, we must tell the people we care about. We must share our love, because we don’t know if, or when, something may happen.
We’ve spent the last couple weeks throwing ourselves into this whirlwind of (increasingly questionable) politics, and I think we may have forgotten to step back and be in the present, and to remind each other that we must take care of each other and ourselves at all times. Willie’s last Facebook post was about the dangerously divisive policies the Trump administration has put forth and the struggles we will face in the next four years against hate, fear, and a growing white nationalistic ideology that will divide our nation. To this, he said:
We’re stronger when we are united. We’re stronger when we celebrate and value our differences. We’re stronger when we resist hateful, xenophobic policies. I feel fortunate to live in a state that isn’t afraid to stand up for its values in the presence of power. Let’s do all we can to keep the values that bring us together, and to resist injustice when we see it.
Amen, Willie. We are stronger together. Our dorm community, our larger campus, has shown that in the past 24 hours. Let’s continue to be there for each other, and let’s not take anything- whether that’s each other, our privileges, or our abilities- for granted. We will do our best to bring to the world what you wanted to do and I hope we do your dreams justice. We love you and we miss you. Rest in power.