January 24th is a date that catches my ear whenever I hear it. I remember as a high school teacher, reading a college essay that begin, “Everything changed on January 24th…”  She was talking about the day her parents told her their family was moving from Chicago to Phoenix, but of course I read the essay with an emotional and heavy heart.

As I mentioned before, today is the 17th anniversary of the Notre Dame women’s swim team bus accident. 17 years ago, the Notre Dame family lost two wonderful young women: Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp. 17 years ago, I gained two guardian angels who still guide me.

I also wrote yesterday that I never know what today – the anniversary – will bring. This year was no different. I had planned a day with my family. I hoped the flowers would arrive as they always do on the 24th (and they are always emotionally appreciated). I knew I would wake up to an e-mail from my mom – who would stay up until 11:38 p.m. Arizona time – the exact time her life changed when she was woken up by the phone call from my teammate, Cyndi, 17 years ago. But this morning brought something different as well; a surprise delivered through the blessing of the internet.

I received an e-mail from a friend of Colleen Hipp’s. She had lived in the same dorm as Colleen at Notre Dame, and she had had dinner with Colleen’s sister 17 years ago last night, as they waited for Colleen to return from our swim meet at Northwestern in Chicago. Reading my book, she said, ended years of bitterness and anger. She had written in remembrance to thank me for allowing her to let go, for helping her to heal.

I am always touched by the e-mails I receive from readers. This one, certainly and especially, touched me personally and with an emotion I can not describe. As I read her recollections and about what she experienced that night 17 years ago, I was reminded how far-reaching the swim team bus accident was. How far-reaching all tragedies are. They do not just affect those involved; they affect everyone who knows someone – who knows someone – who was involved. And when we can turn that ripple effect to healing and strength, we can all heal. Even 17 years later.

Thank you, everyone, for the love and prayers you sent our way today. We all felt it!