March 19, 2020 | From University of Virginia
These words from the President of the University of Virginia are wise and compelling, and an example of how we can speak/listen to each other during this unprecedented time. Although young people do not seem to get sick from coronavirus, their lives are being dramatically impacted. Read and leave a comment with your thoughts.
“A quick thought for our students:
My father died suddenly of a heart attack, in 1998. I remember the shock of learning that my world had changed in an instant, and I remember that it took a long time to process what had just happened. In the days that followed, I noticed that some people were unafraid to acknowledge my grief, while others did their best to focus on the positives, whatever they might be. They were all well-intentioned and helpful in their own ways. But I recall feeling most comforted by those who were themselves comfortable simply sharing my grief. I remember especially the ones who just put their hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said: “I’m really sorry.”
I relay this not to be morbid or self-indulgent, but because these memories were on my mind this week, as I watched the days unfold with bewildering speed. And it became obvious to me that our students at UVA, as well as my own college-age sons, learned this week that their world, too, has changed, suddenly and dramatically. I don’t mean, at all, to equate this situation with the loss of a parent or to introduce unnecessary melodrama into an already complicated situation. Nor do I mean to suggest that only our students will be challenged by the days ahead—we all will be, including our incredibly hard-working staff and faculty, our doctors and nurses, and members of the broader Charlottesville community.
But our students have lost something that will be difficult, if not impossible, to recover. This is especially true of our graduating students, but it also true for hundreds of student-athletes, student performers of all sorts, student-researchers, and others who were preparing for something, participating in something, pouring their hearts into something that will now not happen. No matter how much we know this is the right thing to do, that we will work through this, and that we will emerge even stronger than we are—this is a loss. A real one, and in many cases a painful one.
I will be writing and communicating in the days ahead with various updates on the unfolding situation at UVA. I will also be writing about how we are adapting to our new reality, and I will be doing my very best to highlight the creativity, resilience, and heroism among our community that is already apparent, even in these early days.
But for now, on this Sunday evening, I would just like to take a brief pause and say to our students: I’m really sorry.”