I still remember stepping through the threshold of the room; I was thinking about the great day I had at school and how I could not wait to see my mom. I remember thinking that my dad was acting slightly strange. I never could have imagined what happened while I was at school.
When I finally stepped over the threshold, the scene before me was an emotional shock and became forever stamped upon my memory. There was my mom curled up in the old rocking chair covered by a blanket and sobbing in front of the television. At once, I was very confused; I had seen my mom cry, but this was a different kind of crying, a cry of pure pain and anguish. I did not understand the pictures on the TV that were of a crumbled building with flashing lights all around. I thought that it was a show, since I had seen such things on television before, but never had my mom reacted in such a way. I asked her what was wrong as she held me. I clung to her hoping that it would make her stop crying. She could not talk, only slight words mixed with sobs came out of her mouth, and I started to cry too. My dad came and swept me out of the room, and simply explained why my mom was sad. Someone had done a bad thing to a building that my aunt was working in. At the time the words bomb, victim,murder, terror, and even death meant virtually nothing to me. The words were thrown around in every sentence, but they were only nonsense, and I was oblivious to their meanings. All I could understand was that a building was destroyed and my mother’s older sister was inside of it at the time. My aunt Judy Fisher had been killed in what came to be known as the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Days went by without my mom talking. She quickly was on a plane headed for the scene to be with the rest of the family. Only as the days went by did I start putting the story together. My dad and I would watch the evening news, searching through the names of those whose bodies were found as they scrolled across the screen. I, in my innocence, was still holding onto the hope that my aunt would be rescued from the rubble. I distinctly remember the day when we finally got the news. I stared gazing up at the television watching My Little Ponies prance across the screen when my dad came quietly and explained that my aunt’s remains were found and that he would be leaving the next day.
For a time the news continually played images from that day, along with funeral services and memorials, but after a while, things slowly returned to the way they used to be. I never thought I personally was deeply affected by what had occurred until I began to have dreams every night of a single huge bomb dropping into my bedroom window. For a child, this is scarier than any monster. Something as scary as terrorism is difficult for the mind of a child to understand, let alone the reasons why someone would commit such acts. For me, pure terror came in the form of the face of Timothy McVeigh.
For a long time my mom did not cry, at least not in front of me. It was not until about two and a half years afterwards when we were standing in church singing the hymn “Eagle’s Wings,” that she opened up. At that moment, my mom started tearing up with complete emotion; her voice was once again full of the anguished tears of the memorable day. After that church service my mom began to explain to me what took place that day in depth, everything that I had once been too young to understand became clear and made the disaster much more personal and horrifying. Still today, it is hard for me to sort out reality from what really took place and what my imagination had created. This situation has recurred many times when something reminds my mom of her sister and what happened. Today, she still refuses to watch home videos if they have even the slightest chance of my aunt being in them.
My mom has never escaped the pain of having lost a sister. She has had many moments of peace; however, the sorrow is still cut into her heart. I still believe, as I did when I was little, that my aunt’s angel is watching over me and the rest of our family. Every once in a while, my mom will mention that Judy came into her dreams last night. I simply ask if they had a nice visit together, and my mom smiles and answers yes. I have never been to Oklahoma City since the bombing occurred, but I have seen pictures of a beautiful memorial park. Somewhere in the rows of glistening golden chairs representing the victims written, my aunt’s chair sits, engraved with the name Judy (Froh) Fisher. Ever since I understood the meaning of this memorial, I made a promise to myself to go to Oklahoma City and lay a bundle of flowers at my aunt’s monument. I will say a little prayer hoping that somewhere above she is listening, lifted up on eagle’s wings.
Sarah Muse is a freshman from Van Wert, Ohio, majoring in International Studies.