I never finished writing this, and I never sent it. But as I was clearing out drafts in my inbox, I stumbled across it, and perhaps finishing it now and posting it online will one day reach the eyes and ears of the IBVM, who have had so little to say about the great loss that affected so many.
I remember so clearly the afternoon in August 2003 I sat beside my fellow classmates and you welcomed us to our new home. We were incoming freshmen, shy and anxious about what high school would bring, and you said something that I've carried with me ever since: "You are Loretto wherever you go."
I believed it then, and I still believe it now--even if you've disowned your own words.
There are a lot of things about Loretto I personally didn't "get" when I first arrived--things that ranged from choosing individual class colors/mascots to the debutante-style graduation ceremony to Baby Think It Over (I still have nightmares about the crying) to "Why don't we have Home Ec classes?"
But as my first year came to an end, I started to appreciate all of those things I had panned before: I'll forever think of Loretto (and crazy, fun Homecoming traditions) whenever I see the Pink Panther because of that unique stamp on the Class of 2007; and I liked that we celebrated ridiculous days like Pi Day, made events on campus out of building catapults in Physics class, and gave special assembly days for a Shakespeare Festival. I didn't lose anything by not sitting in a class to learn home economics because we all still would sit around at lunch and knit, and there was always somebody on campus to teach you how to balance a checkbook or sew a button if you needed to learn, and they would never once belittle you in the process.
At Loretto, we were taught by some of the very best, who didn't view their jobs as just something they did to get a paycheck. They were passionate, and it made us passionate. It made me passionate, and I can say for sure I wouldn't be where I am today without those folks guiding and encouraging me at such a young age. For every challenge that confronted us, Loretto tried so desperately to provide the answers--whether it was in an eccentric counselor's office or inside a quiet chapel. I began to understand that Loretto was not just a campus on El Camino Avenue, but it represented equality, education, sisterhood, and faith. Because of Loretto, I am more confident in my ability to be that woman in the world who can "do great things," as Mary Ward insisted.
And sure, Loretto wasn't perfect--but no family is. You don't always have to like each other, but you always love each other.