Christine Thomas was a friend and peer of Rebecca Wight at Virginia Tech who remembers her for her infectious optimism and zest for life. All words below are hers unless specified otherwise.
TW: death, murder.
Rebecca Wight was such a lovely soul and I regret not getting to know her better before she died. We attended Tech together; she was a bit younger than me but we ran in some of the same circles. We were both broke college students just trying to make it at the time, so I guess there was that! What I remember most about her was that she was always so full of life. Oodles of energy! She could talk so much about the things she was passionate about. And she never seemed daunted by life’s setbacks; she always carried herself like she knew it would all work out for her. She was so optimistic and had a great outlook on life, just a lovely, fun person to be around.
When Rebecca died, I found out because the girl I was sharing an apartment with was a mutual friend. It was late at night and she was in the living room reading the paper; I was in the kitchen. She called out to me – she said something like, “Chris, you’ve got to come see this” and then she showed me the paper. Twenty-eight-year-old Virginia Tech student Rebecca Wight shot and killed by an unknown gunman. We couldn’t believe it. I don’t remember being surprised when it came out that she was gay (I don’t mean that in a bad way – someone being gay just wasn’t a “big revelation” for me), but when it came out that it was anti-gay violence, that was scary. I’m not a lesbian, but I had friends who were and I know I worried about them more after this.
I think the memories I have of her are so clear because her death was so jarring. Rebecca was the first person I knew who was murdered and it was jarring to me, even though we’d never been especially close. I remember reading this article later where they described the guy who killed her as an artist and a nature lover and that made me so mad at that time. I was like, “What about Rebecca? She was the victim; why doesn’t anyone care what Rebecca was like?” I mean, she was a nature lover, too – who gives a damn about the killer?
I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I started reading these stories and all the memories came flooding back. No doubt the world is missing out by not having her in it – she would have done incredible things.
Edit (1/2015): Christine found this photo of Rebecca and asked that it be added to her story after being asked what she looked like. She doesn’t remember who took it or how it came into her possession and asks that if that person is reading, they let her know so she can credit them or remove the photo.