What can I say about these past few days that haven’t been said? They have been hellacious at the least. But not the worst.
Let me start with this.
My family has always been fans of the University of Oklahoma. My cousins are die hard fans. Every article of clothing they own has Boomer Sooner or OU on it. Their home décor is crimson and cream. Several of us (including myself) attended OU (my classes were post-graduate, but that is beside the point). I reared my children to Boomer Sooner which was difficult to do since most of their childhood was spent less than 30 minutes from Oklahoma State University. On any given Saturday, we would go to Stillwater to shop, but we tried to wear neutral colors on game days. One particular Saturday, on a spur-of-the-moment trip, the kids and I were wearing our crimson OU apparel in the Stillwater Kohl’s. My husband rushed ahead of kids and looked back repeatedly like he was being followed. He turned to the store clerk and said, “Those kids are following me. Who do they belong to?” It was pretty hilarious (except to the kids who were mildly traumatized).
Anyway, I wanted my kids to be apart of the Sooner tradition. Both kids were great musicians, and I dreamt of the days they would be marching with the Pride. Imagine my surprise when my daughter announced her senior year she wanted to go to OSU. We took a tour of the campus, and I cannot deny that it was a very friendly atmosphere. Most of the students we encountered were homegrown kids from towns similar to what we were used to. My daughter auditioned for and became a member the Cowboy Marching Band her first year (at this time, mind you, the Pride was going through some ugly times). She has not regretted her decision to attend OSU. She loves it, and I love going up there. The community, school, and campus are friendly and inviting. Plus I love Eskimo Joe’s bacon cheese fries.
So when I heard the unthinkable tragedy that occurred Saturday at the Nation’s Largest Homecoming, the Sea of Orange Parade, I was overcome. I am grateful my daughter overslept and missed the parade. I am grateful the band was at the front of the parade, and the car careening toward the crowd was at the end. I am so saddened for the families who have lost their loved ones, for the people (especially the children) who were hurt, and I am so, so sad for the woman who did this. She does not look like a malicious person. She looks lost.
Oklahoma State University is riddled with tragedies. This is not the first tragedy to happen. In the wakes of recent university shootings, I am thankful that it was unintended, and that this is a strong, overcoming community.
Unfortunately, Stillwater is not the only community hurting in our state. A Bethany player was seriously injured on our own field here in Blanchard. It is devastating. It is a life-altering injury from playing high school football.