Thursday, April 19, 2007

Difficult Day

April 19, 1995

I was in college at Stillwater. It was a Wednesday, so I had lecture classes. Mr. Gaia and I had a break at the same time and we would meet in our department's student lounge for lunch. We walked in to hear students upset. They were being more racist than normal and using slurs I had never heard before (yes I was sheltered). I heard "sand ni----" "rag-head" "camel jockeys". Once we got people to shut up and tell us what happened, we were staggered.

Oklahoma is a small state. It's a small-town state. A bombing of that magnitude was sure to touch us in some way.

The next two weeks are still a blur. We were finishing the last minute plans for our wedding in 2.5 weeks, we were studying for finals, we were trying to finish our senior capstone project, we were packing up our apartment to move right after our wedding.

Every day the school paper printed stories of people who had lost family members in the bombing. I watched the news every minute I wasn't in class. I cried daily. I sank into a depression that lasted for months.

Mr. Gaia and I were lucky. We didn't lose any family members or friends. Even now, we only know a few people who did lose family members and friends.

It's been 12 years. I look at my kids and I hug them even closer and remember all the babies who didn't get to live this long. I think of all the parents who lost their babies much too early. I'm not sure if I'll ever write April 19 without remembering those babies. 9/11 is our national tragedy. April 19 is our personal tragedy.


Tanya Brown said...

Even more horrible, in a sense: we're such an incredibly racist nation that we instantly start spouting off about "dune coons", "sand n---" or whatever type of "other" we're against that particular week. However, I believe that in this particular instance it was two citizens of the U.S. who caused this tragedy.

But yes, it's good to hold fast to those we love. What a horrible thing it must be to have to bury a child.

Gaia said...

Absolutely it was 2 american citizens. They picked Oklahoma, apparently, because our federal building was the least protected. And also probably because of the daycare. They wanted to inflict maximum pain.

They succeeded.

The callousness of that day will always haunt me. One girl was upset because this would mean that a concert she wanted to see was cancelled.

When 9/11 happened, I wasn't quick to assume it was middle eastern. I'd seen those assumptions once before and they'd been wrong then.