Roses in the Snow
Something few of my online friends know about me is that I was a gamer in college. A role playing gamer, not a video gamer. I belonged to a gamers society that originally consisted of some twenty or so male students, and three of us girls.
One was a pretty hard core gamer, who played pretty much any role playing game the guys brought out. The second was her best friend, who wasn't much into the role playing games but was dating one of the guys. I was the third, and ironically though I did play AD&D (a version of Dungeons and Dragons) I never played with that group. But I loved the guys bunches, and I had lots of fun spending my spare time in the club room or going out in the evening with them.
Most of the members of the gaming group spent more than the allotted two years at the college – often due to a change in program or spending too much time playing games and not enough studying! But for many of us, it was just that this group of friends had become family. This was a place where everyone was welcome – the social misfits, the science geeks, the tomboys, and the jocks who were too smart for their own good. Each person was embraced as they were. No need to try to be different, or to hold back on some part of ourselves in fear that people just wouldn't understand. Everybody was loved in that group. We all understood what it was to be different.
Even after I left the college and went off to work, I used to come back and spend the day with my friends. By that time, there were a lot more girls in the group. And some 20+ years later, I'm still in touch with one of those girls whose own children are now in college.
That group was like home for many of us. Even years after college, there was a group that would vacation together. Several of the guys are still among my Facebook contacts. And a few of them are actually godparents to each others' kids today.
One of the things that really cemented the bonds in our group was the 1989 school shooting at the École Polytechnique , the science and engineering school of the University of Montreal. The massacre resulted in the deaths of fourteen young women from the engineering faculty. One of them was a girl who had been part of our gaming group.
The days following the shooting were filled with a flurry of phone calls and impromptu visits, as we first tried to find out of Anne Marie was OK, and then realized she had indeed been among the fallen. Later there were gatherings, the visitation at the funeral home, and the huge public funeral at one of Montreal's biggest cathedrals. Some of the guys even went home with her parents afterwards, and spent the night talking with them, telling them of all the memories they had shared with this sweet and cheerful girl.
My most powerful memory of this time was the roses in the snow. When the school had been cordoned off as a crime scene and people wanted to do something in memory of the young women who were killed, someone placed a single red rose in the snow near the building where the massacre had taken place. It was photographed by the daily newspaper, and soon more and more flowers were showing up. They became a symbol of the innocence of youth, and of the blood spilled because one young man had felt left out.
I guess maybe things would have been different, if only Marc Lépine had found himself a group like my gamers, where he could feel loved and accepted....
This is my Gaming entry for Dawnwriter 's A-W Category Challenge
Image credit: Rose in the snow by Michael Hoelzl/Wikipedia (Public domain)
Image Credit » http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2007_rote_Rose.JPG