Sunday, January 23, 2011

how i became a mrs. (part 6)

If you're new to the story, you can catch up here - but start at the bottom! (PS: holy whoa, this was an emotional post to write.)

That Friday, March 3 (for a little perspective), was beautiful. It was one of those days in the South that pops up in early Spring, when it was probably cold the day before, making you impatient for the warm months to come. I was standing with Meredith in front of The Pit, talking to Matt as he passed by to his next class, waiting to head to the back of Lenoir to meet the others for lunch. Here's a picture so you can visualize it:


You have to understand something about The Pit: it's probably the busiest part of campus. And on noon on a Friday? It was nuts. It's the heart of the campus. It's where everyone walked to get to class. It was expected, when you walked by, to see students campaigning for Class President or The Pit Preacher condemning us to hell or the Improv Club trying to get you to come out to that night's performance. Today, it was some student group handing out fliers and playing loud music to get our attention. So when I noticed an SUV pull up to my right (on what is not a road, mind you) my first thought was "oh great, I wonder what they're going to do with that?"

And then he floored it.

Meredith and I jumped out of the way and as we stumbled backwards, watched as he hit several people in front of us before turning around the other side of the building, between Lenoir and Davis Library. It didn't take long for everyone to realize that this wasn't a Pit stunt, but something way more serious. And there was screaming and crying and lots of panic. Meredith ran around the side to find Matt, since he'd left us just second before down the path that the SUV took. He'd heard the engine and had just enough time to jump up on the brick wall and out of the way. My first instinct was to call my dad, so as I walked back through the building toward the back of Lenoir (where Andrew and the others were waiting). I fought tears long enough for Daddy to answer. And then all I could choke out was "someone just drove through The Pit and ran over a bunch of people."

Unfortunately for him, through my sobs he only heard "ran over a bunch of people." I can only imagine how far his eyes bugged out of his head when he heard that and he responded, "you did WHAT?" That's something that we laugh about looking back.

Let's step aside for a minute. Here's the thing about my dad: in my eyes, he can fix everything. Whenever anything happens that bothers me or makes me question the norm or confuses me, I call him. Whether he can do anything about it or not. So what I expected him to do for me at the time, I have no idea. But I called him. And I sat on a brick wall and cried, asking "why" over and over and over again. Why would somebody do this? And he stayed with me on the phone, repeating "I don't know, sweetie. I don't know" over and over and over again until we were both somewhat convinced that I had my wits about me again.

Across the way, Andrew was with the others. They'd just walked up and had no idea what was going on. They didn't know why everyone in that vicinity was in a frenzy. They didn't know why I was crying hysterically. But I caught Andrew's eye and I won't ever forget it. He didn't look terrified by the emotionally unstable girl crying on the ground. He didn't think, "maybe I should reconsider this because whoa, she's a hot mess." What I saw was a look that comforted me, but it wasn't until I got to know him better that I recognized it. It's the way he looks when he wants to fix something, but doesn't know how. An urgency. A please-let-me-help-you-because-I-can't-see-you-like-this glance, that has saved me countless times since then.

By this point, my dad had called back to say that he'd talked to my mom and they felt that I needed to come home. He was coming to pick me up. But here's why that couldn't happen:
  1. He was at work and he couldn't just leave like that.
  2. All of Chapel Hill was blocked off. This guy hadn't given himself up yet and they had no idea what he was doing or where he was going, so they had us surrounded. Think SWAT teams and bomb squads and helicopters and lots of police tape. No, really. (We found out later that he was a former student, a Muslim, who was "avenging the deaths of Muslims around the world." He eventually turned himself in and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. And by the grace of God no one was killed during the attack.)
  3. I needed to be with my friends. When you're in college, it's home. And when that home is violated, it's devastating. But I knew that I needed to carry on, as normally as possible, with the people who were dealing with the same emotions. I needed that to work through it.
So that was that. I would stay and would fight for normalcy. We ate lunch and tried not to talk about it. But remember that Psychology test I'd been studying for? It was that afternoon. Was I in any shape to take a test? Yeah right. It took me two hours to stop shaking and I'm pretty sure all the info I'd learned had fallen right out of my head with those events. Enter Andrew.

Why don't you tell him you can't take it today? He'll understand. Let me walk with you.

So he did. He walked with me to the classroom, to the front of the class, to tell the professor I couldn't take the test. And then he walked me back to my dorm, which was in the opposite direction of the route back to his apartment. And he told me to rest and that'd he'd pick me up later. He's taking care of me.

That night, we all joined together at Meredith's apartment and vowed to leave the TV off for the rest of the weekend. News crews and helicopters had taken over our campus and it was too much. So we piled into cars and headed to Jordan Lake. Here's what I remember:
  1. Andrew drove and asked me to sit up front with him.
  2. He asked me if I was doing okay.
  3. He built a fire in the woods when we all got there (and I find that quite attractive, thankyouverymuch)
  4. He asked me if I'd study with him the next day.
He's keeping me busy. He's taking care of me. He can build a fire in the woods. And with that, I was smitten.

2 friends said...:

  1. I just caught up on 5 and 6 and I'm sobbing...Yes, I'm also a sucker for Hallmark commercials, but your story is beautiful and real and awesome and God is so obviously present. Thank you for sharing it -- it's a perfect example of how God takes care of all of us by bringing us Angels -- some for a moment, but some that stick around for a lifetime. You just forgot one thing..."and we're living happily ever after."

  2. Oh my goodness, I remember this day. I remember walking out of Lenoir just in time to watch the SUV go by. I remember the fear and the panic. I remember calling my own dad and telling him no matter what he sees on the news I was okay. And I remember numbly sitting through a stats class that afternoon. Gracious...what a scary day that was. Amazing how the Lord used it in your beautiful love story.


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