Eighteen years ago, on April 19th, I remember kneeling in front of the television with my 15-year-old daughter, Nina. Tears ran down our faces as we watched the indelible image of firefighter Chris Fields holding the mortally wounded year-old baby girl, Baylee Almon. I squeezed Nina’s hand tightly as I heard that a day care in the Murrah Building, where the bombing took place, was affected. I distinctly remember saying to her: “I could never survive if something happened to any of you.”
Just three weeks later, my own baby girl, my precious daughter Nina, was killed in a drunk driving accident while we were vacationing as a family in Florida. Each April 19th since that time eighteen years ago, I am forced to remember so vividly the details of that day, as well as the prophetic statement I made to Nina before she was taken from us.
Since Nina was the neighborhood’s favorite babysitter, I like to think that she is taking care of the young ones who perished in the Murrah Building and since then. That thought gives me a small measure of comfort.
And here I am, unbelievably, 18 years later, still standing, and sometimes wondering why I am. But how I am doing it is easy to say: through my relationship and involvement with The Compassionate Friends, a self-help group for bereaved parents and other family members. The friends I have made through TCF who have stood by my side for the last nearly two decades, and have truly sustained me.
Not a day goes by that I do not miss my precious daughter. I love her as much as I ever did, and our relationship lives on, not in the way I would have dreamed and hoped for, but we had a tremendous love for each other, and death cannot take that away.
Naively, after that terrible tragedy in Oklahoma City 18 years ago, in the heartland of our own USA, I thought the world would get better and learn from the experience. The happenings in Boston proved otherwise. My heart is broken all over again. My prayers are with the secondary victims of that tragedy as they will now have to remember their loved ones on into the future. I hope for them the strength I found in the support of others who also had huge losses.
[from a letter to the St. Paul Pioneer Press from a reader]
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis