“I saw the news, I’m sorry about what happened in Stillwater”
That was what the text read that came through as I hooked onto wi-fi in a hostel in Dublin, Ireland.
Suddenly my mind was racing.
What had happened?!
I couldn’t finish typing “Stillwater” before Google gave me the results.
Tragedy had hit my forever orange home.
A woman, with demons we may never understand,
needed to numb her pain with alcohol,
And gave her pain to a community, a state, a family.
She drove into the crowd of a parade that marks the happiest weekend in the Bright Orange world.
The moment I knew, my heart was pounding, tears were in my eyes, and my palms sweating.
At that moment the texts started rolling in, people asking me what I knew.
The problem was I didn’t know anything.
Where were my Littles?
Where were all my sisters?
What I knew was 4 cowboys had lost their lives, What I didn’t know was if those Cowboys were people I knew.
Frantically sending texts to everyone I knew,
while knowing game day service is spotty at best,
assurances of being physically ok began to come in.
I began to calm down.
But that’s just it, the Cowboy family was not mentally ok.
We were shaken, we were heartbroken, and we were tired of tragedy hitting us.
Those in Stillwater came together to cheer our team to another victory,
But Cowboys around the world sat near their phones waiting for more news updates.
We’ve been here before, tragedy has struck us before.
We always come out stronger.
A lot of people don’t understand what it means for a state university to be so tight,
But at Oklahoma State, we are a family, and it’s because of moments like these that make us that way.
Out of tragedy comes resilience and strength
and God’s Country, Stillwater, Oklahoma, sure has a lot of both.
Now we will pray for those still fighting,
we will pray for those families who lost love ones,
we will weep for lives lost,
and we will remember.
But also, through all of this, our Orange will shine bright.
I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have gone to Oklahoma State and to be a Cowboy forever.
And I was reminded of that in a little hostel in Dublin, Ireland, as I watched multiple countries news report on a town called Stillwater.
To Switzerland, to Germany, to Ireland, and all the places that reported the news,
Stillwater is just a small American town, with a university,
but to me, well, it’s home, and it’s going to survive this.