For the UGA family, it’s been the sort of week that brings lots of tears, but also a resiliency born of a community coming together to mourn the loss of four of its youngest and brightest while supporting those left behind whose lives will never again be the same.
“It’s been a bad couple of days.” That’s how my daughter, Olivia, a UGA senior, summed it up with a trembling voice when I called to check in on her and tell her I love her.
Even those who didn’t personally know the young women involved in the tragic accident on a highway near Athens have felt the loss. And, so, hundreds of people have gathered on campus in Athens and in these girls’ hometowns to let the families and friends of the victims know that they’re not alone in their grief.
See, that’s the thing about community. It’s why, going back as far as mankind has existed, we’ve sought out others with whom we have something in common, people with whom we feel a kinship even when there’s no blood relation.
Schools and athletic programs long have been a part of our innate clannish nature. You and I might never have met, but if we have UGA or the Georgia Bulldogs in common, there’s a connection between us.
We celebrate together. And we grieve together.
I think Kendall Trammell, a former AJC intern who will graduate from UGA in a couple of weeks with my daughter, said it beautifully in a piece she wrote for the paper:
“On a campus with more than 35,000 people, we can mourn together as a community and we can heal together as a community. The experiences we share here emotionally connect us with one another.
“It’s why we can gather in the Tate Student Center Plaza and pray with students, faculty and staff that we have never met. … It’s why, on the most devastating days of the year, we can say it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog.”
That’s why, even amid such sadness, there is something gained by the way we react to a tragedy like this. We come together. We support one another.
And we’re stronger for it.
Tomorrow, we’ll try to get back on the positive side of life as a Dawg by dipping into some of my recent Junkyard Mail.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
Bill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.