I last wore this pretty linen dress on April 19, 1995, a day I will never forget. I knew I would only be able to wear it a few more times this season before the weather got too hot, when the linen would start to make me itch and be too uncomfortable.
I headed into town to work as I did every weekday. My Wednesday morning at the law office started as usual. I settled into my day by starting to input time slips from the previous day’s work into the computer program. Just after 9:00 a.m., the whole world as I knew it changed… A bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just six blocks south of the building where I worked. I had never heard such a horrible sound. It shook the entire building and blew open the outside deadbolt-locked doors in the office next to me. People started screaming to each other to be sure everyone was okay. My first thought was something on the second floor of the building had exploded. Oxygen tanks were stored there. I did not smell smoke or see any fire. We still had electricity. I made sure everyone in our office was okay. Someone picked up the telephone to call 911 and could not get through because all of the lines were jammed. All of this happened in less than 5 seconds.
One of the attorneys ran outside to see if he could determine what had happened. He ran back inside screaming that something downtown had blown up, there was black smoke in the sky. I was a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician so I ran to my car, grabbed my medical kit, handheld radio, stuffed some extra gloves in the kit, and started running south. Yes, running south in this pretty linen dress.
Over the next 7 hours, I experienced some of the worst horror I have ever seen in my life. Adults were dead. Children were dead. Adults were hurt. Children were hurt. Broken glass, plaster, pieces of metal, and building materials were everywhere. I was trying to reach someone trapped in the building debris to help free the person when a voice shouted, “BOMB,” and everyone had to evacuate the scene. It was the first time I thought I might die. As I was running away as fast as I could, I was expecting at any second to feel a blast coming from behind me that would end my life.
This linen dress is still hanging in my closet and has been hanging there in the same spot at the very back of the closet for the last 19 years and 9 months. For some reason I just cannot get rid of it. I have never put it on since that day.
This event helped me realize just how fragile life is and how drastically it can all change in the blink of an eye… Forever. Every day since that horrific day, I have always been so very conscious to appreciate what I have.
Always tell your family and friends you love them — for you never know when it could be your last opportunity. Never, never take anything or anyone for granted and never leave anything unsaid. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
This is the person I respect so much…. and call my friend. I’m so sorry that she and others had to endure this horror, but hope that she is near if I need help.