Today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Most people in Oklahoma can tell you exactly where they were on that day. I was teaching preschool. We did not feel anything like many people in Oklahoma City and out lying areas felt. My school was seventy-five miles away, but it was on the news almost immediately and the teachers were told as soon as it happened. The father of one of my student’s was at the Murrah building that day for a meeting. We spent the morning wondering if he was OK or if he was one of the missing or dead. It was difficult to be upbeat for the children because of the worry we were experiencing and the empathy for the family we were feeling. Late in the day we were told he had managed to get out of the building by going down a stairwell but, he was in surgery. There were extensive injuries to his face and eye. He survived. There were 168 innocent people, many of them children, who did not. Even after all of these years, seventeen to be exact, to think about it is extremely sobering.
If you have never been to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to visit the National Memorial and Museum I highly recommend you do it sometime. It is quite peaceful and quite solemn. I haven’t ever been inside the museum but have heard many, many people tell about it and what a wonderful memorial to the lives lost there. I have been to the outside areas of the memorial on more than one occasion. To stand by the reflecting pool and look at the chairs which represent each life lost is in some ways peaceful but mostly, it is sad. It is a visual representation of lives lost. The size of the chairs is in relation to the age/size of the person. When I see the little chairs of the children I cry every time. Have you ever gone for a walk in a cemetery and looked at the dates on the headstones? My husband enjoys genealogy research and we have spent many hours walking through cemeteries. I am always moved by the stones of children. The chairs at the memorial move me in much the same way.
This brings me to the intent of my blog which is to discuss death, dying and grieving. The Murrah Bombing is not exactly a dead elephant in the room. It is remembered, discussed, viewed, etc. People do not seem to have a hard time talking about it or the lives lost. By people, I mean people in general. I would speculate those people who lost loved ones on April 19 might feel differently. I would venture to guess it is their own dead elephant in the room. My guess would be it is something that people avoid discussing with them because it is too personal.
It appears to be semi-easy to discuss a tragic event such as April 19 or 911 because most of us are disjointed from it. Yes, we were all affected by both of those events (if you were not affected by them I would venture to say you have a heart of stone) but not all of us were affected directly. I remember sitting for hours at a time glued to the TV watching the news reports regarding both of these events with tears streaming down my face trying to make sense of what I was watching. I was affected deeply but, with the exception of the father of one of my students, I did not have a direct relationship to anyone involved in either of the tragedies. Not all of us lost a loved one. Not all of us spent hours, days, or weeks waiting for news about our loved ones. We seem to be able to talk about it because we were not directly affected.
Tragedy. Death is always a tragedy. We loose the people we love and the lives we shared with them. Tragic. Tonight emotions are leaking from my eyes not only for the lives lost on April 19, but for the life of my sister 10 months ago and the life of my father over 24 years ago. They are my two dead elephants in the room and this blog is my memorial.