As we contemplate the sudden and tragic loss of our beloved community members, Erin Walker and Troy Wolf, we also enter what is certain to be a very long healing process. Moving forward, each of us will grieve in our own unique ways. For our community, the grieving process also brings an opportunity to come together and to grow closer.
For me, and perhaps for you, too, there are many lingering questions about each of these tragedies; the one that I fear will never be answered is simply, “why?”
To be honest, right now I’m finding few answers to any of my questions. One thing I do know is just how strong we have proven ourselves as a community of colleagues and friends. It is heartening to witness how we have rallied around one another – been with each other – through these tragedies. While each of us may walk our own path to healing, none of us has to walk alone.
Last week, when all of our local news stations were on campus, I saw Kathie Hunt talk about someone who was more than just another colleague. To quote Kathie: “A college is like a quilt, all the patches fitting together. Troy was a very big piece of our quilt. Eventually, we’ll figure out a way to mend it, but it will never be the same.”
I think those words perfectly reflect how we feel about both Erin and Troy and I am inspired by – and in awe of – the quilt that is Shoreline Community College. It is one that we make together.
We will never be able to replace Erin and Troy, but we can and we will find ways to carry on their work as teachers, colleagues and friends. We can use their spirits to continue to build our community, to make it stronger and to deepen our relationships. When all is said and done, the quality of our relationships will determine our success in carrying on the work to which they dedicated their lives. May their memory live on forever.