Saturday 5 May 2007
This regards the murder of our son Jamie, along with 31 other students or instructors, on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16:
Jamie's mother and I would like to thank the hundreds of you who have sent cards, letters, or condoling e-mails. Virtually all of you note that it's next to impossible to express your heartbreak in words (although some come eloquently close) and that mere words are not likely to assuage our pain. However, we would like those who have written, or telephoned, to know that your grieving with us and for us does in fact offer some comfort. We will never fully escape the ache that we now feel, but if we did, we would no longer qualify as fully human. Meanwhile, it's impossible, at least for now, to reply to every welcome expression of sympathy because of their overwhelming number and pressing practical concerns.
Right now we're also hurting for our daughter Stephanie Loftin and her husband Bridger and their two children, Annabel and Joel, and of course for our daughter-in-law, Jamie's widow, Stefanie Hofer, whom Jamie loved with all his heart. Jamie is also survived by his grandmothers, Maxine Willis of Cherokee Village, Arkansas, and Jeri's mother, Minnie Ellis Whitaker of Columbus, Georgia, and by his uncle John Gregory Whitaker and Greg's wife Linda of Fort Valley, Georgia, and by their sons (Jamie's cousins), John, Jeff, and Kevin Whitaker.
Please let me note here that Jamie did digital covers for four of my books, not merely a story collection from Golden Gryphon Press and an essay collection for PS Publishing. The other covers were for my poetry volume from Steve Pasechnik's Edgewood Press, Time Pieces, and a forthcoming anthology of science fiction stories for PS Publishing coedited with Steven Utley, Passing for Human. Further, he spoke German like a native, understood computers inside out, played drums in a basement band, bicycled and hiked, followed the fortunes of the Atlanta Braves as obsessively as his mother, grandmothers, and I did, and made friends everywhere. He was a people lover from the get-go, and his energy levels put mine to shame.
I will miss going into Jamie and Steffi's home in Blacksburg and seeing new pieces of his art on their walls and also the ingenious pieces of furniture, unlike anyone else's, that he periodically created. Nor will I ever forget him running shirtless, swift and elusive, on the toli (Indian stick ball) field at the University of Georgia and elsewhere, so replete with life that he seemed to all who met him forever immune to personal extinction. In our minds, hearts, and imaginations, indeed, he tenaciously persists.
Abschied, mein Sohn. And Godspeed.
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