Ups and downs. That's how some of the victims' families remember the past year.
While the losses and aftermath of last April's events have been extremely difficult to deal with, some families have found positive experiences throughout the year, helping them remember their loved ones and reciprocating the community's support.
"Whoa. Well it's been terrible, and at the same time it's been positive in some ways," said Bryan Cloyd, father of Austin Cloyd. "It's sort of changed my life in a way that I've been doing some things I would not have otherwise done; by doing those things. And I have been meeting with students and engaging in activities I would not have done before ... It's been a year of tremendous grief and also some sources of joy that have been unexpected."
Peter Read, father of Mary Read, has also had a similar experience.
"It's been (a) hard year; it's been an up and down year, a year of mixed blessings," Read said. "Since that time, we've had the birth of another child, the birth of another brother; it's obviously something we are happy about. There are just so many things to deal with, details that are there, and a regular life that goes on with work and school for Mary's brothers and sisters. The business of life goes on. It's hard, but there are small joys to go with the sorrow."
Reema Samaha's sister, Randa Samaha, feels that events have been continuous and non-stop, making it hard to believe a year has passed.
"The past year has been full of many ups and downs, it really feels like it just happened because all the action and everything hasn't stopped, and it has been continuous since it happened," she said. "Media stuff, ceremonies, memorials, messages, letters from random people, phone calls from other people, even more so now ... it hasn't stopped since then."
The families have become involved with various organizations for different reasons as a way to remember their loved ones.
In the past year, Bryan has primarily worked with the Appalachia Service Project, which provides housing services to low-income families living in Central Appalachia.
"This weekend will be our fifth trip down with Virginia Tech students to Jonesville, Va., where we've been working with impoverished families to repair their homes," Cloyd said. "In total we've taken about 150 students down there. We've picked that as our focus of what to do, because that was a focus of Austin's and we felt that it was something we could do, and that it was more likely to lead to a more positive outcome."
In honor of Reema, Randa and her family have been involved with several organizations as well as setting up some of their own.
The Samahas have organized the Reema J. Samaha Memorial Scholarship Fund that provides three different scholarships to students who exemplify her attributes, along with the Angel Fund, that focuses on issues related to April 16 such as mental illness, gun safety and campus safety. They have also been involved with ProtestEasyGuns.com and the Brady Campaign, which deals with gun violence.
Peter has also been involved in gun safety legislation issues along with Gov. Tim Kaine's initiatives and has supported other issues.
"We've tried to support all of the responses, particularly the governor's initiatives, mental health, privacy issues, things that are changing and have changed; we've been involved with public safety aspects of gun-related issues. That's something of great concern to us and has been close to our hearts, and we continue to worry about and watch over Mary and her friends, those that are from here and elsewhere," Read said. "Apart from the daily life and normal routines, those are the things that we've focused on."
The Cloyds have not been involved with the issues surrounding gun control.
"Gun control is such a contentious issue," Bryan said.
For Bryan, the Tech community continues to be supportive, while from the outside things have died down.
"(Support has) trickled in from a broad nationwide community. There were just loads of things for the first couple of months that has trickled down to very little things coming from people we do not know," Bryan said. "But our local community tends to be really supportive, meaning the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg community and the church; that hasn't changed."
While initially receiving a lot of attention, media coverage has since died down and now comes in waves for the Reads and the Cloyds.