I called my mom crying and scared.
“There’s been a car accident...people died...I saw it happen.” I told my mom through tears. A women had just gone through the crowd at the Oklahoma State Homecoming parade on the corner of Main and Hall of Fame. I had been joyfully watching the parade with two of my roommates just moments earlier.
My mom was in Texas and I didn’t want her to see the news and start panicking, which she’s prone to do.
So I called her, and those words were all I could get out. Which didn’t help her stay calm. Once I was able to calm down, I explained what had happened. We hung up and I continued to walk to my dorm and just processed what happened.
As my roommates and I began to get ready for a game that wasn’t really on our minds anymore, we sat and reflected. We had been about 10 feet away from the Hastings sign and the curb the car would eventually end up on. We just sat in few words. We had embraced each other at the scene being thankful that we were all okay.
I then began my trek to the stadium to meet up with the Paddle People. As I got the stadium I got a call from my older brother. He worriedly asked me if I was okay. We talked for awhile as he made sure I was going to be alright and we hung up. Then the the influx of “roll call” messages came in. That’s when I began to realize the true seriousness of what had happened. I could have been ten feet closer and possibly no longer be here. It was a lot to take in.
The Paddle People officers found out what happened and we did the only thing we knew to do. Pray. We gathered in a circle and just prayed as hard as we could for what was happening just down the road. I truly believe that’s where God knew I needed to be in that moment. Surrounded by people that cared for their community, their classmates. For me specifically, sorority sisters had been hurt, I knew people that were first responders. It was the first time I’d ever experience something like that.
As the days followed, I had friends that I hadn’t seen in forever messaging me with support, I went to vigils for those that had lost their life. I had an outpouring of wet puppy kisses and love as I met with Pete’s Pet Posse dogs whenever I could. I learned from that experience what #stillwaterstrong meant. This is the best community in the world. No matter what happens were going to be there for each other and get through it.
This goes out to Nash, Nikita and Bonnie and Marvin Stone. You’ll never be forgotten.
P.S. I wrote about this last year as well if you’re interested in reading it. Some of you know my story. I’m writing again more for myself this time. I felt like I needed to reflect somewhere and what a better place than the site that’s let me reflect on quite a bit about my time at Oklahoma State.