LETTER: University students live on

       

To the students of the University,

      

What the Living Do

Marie Howe, 1950

          

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

      

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.

It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

      

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.

For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

     

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those

wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

     

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.

Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

    

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want

whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

    

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,

say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

    

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:

I am living. I remember you.

          

We, the students of the University of Virginia, are the living. We are the blood that runs through the iron pipes of the University. We the picturesque, we the hideous, the marginalized, the spoiled, the idealistic, the good-hearted. We. When you walk through our Grounds, past each painful fissure that has blossomed forth like so many angry scars, remember. Sear each tragedy into the fiber of your being. Some people won't want to, others will beg you to; people will be angry, and sad. But, it is our duty. We, the blood of the University, are charged with the sacred task of living on. Without us, the University is a mere thought, the barest whisper of an idea. Each of us, together, coalesces into something greater than the sum of individual parts, something special. Look to those Rebels around our community, whose good work and purity of intent are like beacons for the rest of us to follow. There is a Rebel in each of you. The resiliency that it affords, that you have shown, is admirable. When part of our community is broken, we are broken, and the magic of us flickers. But as we live on, and live honorably, that magic returns and is brighter than ever before. Our student body must live on; there is simply no other option.

     

Liberty Prevails,

The Assembled Sons and Daughters of Liberty,

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And Remember, Liberty has no Dark Days, Only Dark Nights; A Glorious Sun Always Rifes come the Morne.

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