I THINK ABOUT YOU (ALL)

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I had a terrible dream I can’t really write about so I wrote this memory and poem instead.

168 people died the morning of April 19th 1995 as I drove past downtown Oklahoma City to go to work. I was late that day. I worked for an oilfield chemical company and all my co-workers were out front looking towards the NW. They originally thought something in our own warehouse had exploded and had come out to see what happened but then felt like it was something that had to have happened elsewhere. None of us could see anything so we went inside.

It was just a short bit later my mom called and asked if my father-n-law was ok. She told me what had happened and when we all went outside to look toward the NW again their was a black cloud growing over downtown.

My father-n-law was fine but something he told me has never left my thoughts. When the nearby, Alfred_P._Murrah_Federal_Building was bombed,  he left his building and once  outside he looked up and plates of glass were drifting down from the sky.  Large heavy panes of glass were catching reflections as they drifted in the turbulent air around all the buildings.

Since that day I avoided visiting the memorial.  I didn’t avoid it because I was afraid of feeling the emotions it might evoke.  I didn’t visit because I felt like it was a place for the families and the rescue workers who wear scars inside their hearts for those who died.  And maybe because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about the what if’s and the why’s and the who were they’s.

My ex-husband has moved downtown.  He resides near this memorial.  My daughter and I helped move him and before we left she took my hand and said, “let me show you the memorial mom!”  I let her take me and we sat.  She told me about the chairs and the names and how there were little kids who died.  She had learned all of this on a field trip she had gone on.

I sat and held her hand and felt… so deeply grateful to have her sitting next to me.  And also… I can’t stop thinking about all the what if’s and who were they’s.


 

I imagined myself in your shoes.
I don’t know you
I’ve never met you
But I have read about you
And through the years
I’ve wondered how you are

The news that day was tragic
No
Beyond tragic
Beyond horrific
No words can express
The devastation we all felt
As a community we watched
Helpless with tears flowing
Those men
Those women
And then…
The children
The babies

It took more than two decades
To visit the place so many spent
The last moments of their life
But I sat and wondered things
I can’t write
I won’t write
Out of respect for the people
Who miss the dead very deeply

I sat looking at the memorial
At all the chairs, big and small
With real names inscribed
Representing the lives lost
Under concrete and metal
And I imagined their ghostly outlines
Sitting in their chairs, looking at us

I watched a woman pass
She was in a wheelchair
With grief dancing on her face
She has been without someone
For quite a while and I wondered
What did she look like that day
She was much younger back then
Was it her boyfriend?
Her husband?
Her… I can’t even bare it myself

And then I think of you again
The one I know has images
Seared so deep into your brain
Branded so deep into your heart
They will never ever be erased
No amount of drugs or booze
Can help you forget that day
And again
I can’t write
I won’t write
What I know you must have seen
What haunts me
Me…
Just a person
A faraway witness
To the nightmare you encountered
The day your unit got the call

I wonder
Did you find faith that day?
Or was your faith destroyed?
To watch so many families grieving
Over the loved ones you uncovered
I can’t imagine
And I try so hard not too
But like I said
I think about you on that day
And what all your days after
Must be like, feel like

And this day as I sit in the quiet
I say a prayer
Not only for the surviving families
But for you
The many many yous
That did your job with heart and respect
That carry the memory
Of the many you tried to rescue
For the many that you couldn’t

Every day and forever

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5 thoughts on “I THINK ABOUT YOU (ALL)

  1. I remember this day all too well. I was married to my ex-husband at the time, and he was in the Army, stationed here at Ft Riley, where all of this was plotted and planned. It was an eerie time around here, with ATF and FBI all over the place. I also got a call from the LA Times. They wanted to speak to my ex, because McVeigh had been in the same unit as him. It was surreal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heart felt and so beautifully done, Hasty. I understand how it took so long to visit that memorial. I have yet to visit that black stone wall on the Mall in DC. I wouldn’t be looking for any particular name(s). Mine was not a combat unit there, but there would still be the totality. Thank you.

    Like

  3. Beautifully written and utterly heart-wrenching. I remember reading about the bombing in a Reader’s Digest article when I was a little kid, and I was just appalled that anyone would ever, ever do something so horrific.

    Like

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