Oklahoma Bombing Reminder of Ordeals
Were it not for the news coverage the previous weekend, last week’s 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City might have slipped by me unnoticed.
The reports instantly brought to mind the shock I felt in our corner of the world in Louisville, Kentucky, on Apr. 19, 1994.
I remembered it happened on a Wednesday. Primarily because that evening was our church’s mid-week fellowship dinner and a devotional led by our pastor.
Naturally, the bombing was the leading topic of discussion. Like me, everyone felt numbed and confused.
However, the memory that stands out of that week occurred two days later.
I was on the verge of leaving for the gymnasium at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where we resided on campus while my wife attended school.
Three days a week, a group of students, seminary employees, alumni, and others gathered for games of pickup basketball.
I thought of it as “pure” enjoyment: no scoreboards, no fans, no trophies, just playing for the fun of it. If any players were waiting for a turn, winning meant the right to stay on the court for the next game.
An Urgent Deadline
However, less than 10 minutes before my scheduled departure around 11:45 a.m., the phone rang.
An editor wanted to know if I could interview a man in Oklahoma City whose two grandsons were among the 168 victims.
“He’s willing to talk,” the editor said, giving me a phone number where I could reach him.
“When do you need this?” I asked.
As soon as he hung up, I called the number. But the grandfather told me it was too crazy at his daughter’s house. He promised to call within an hour from an office an acquaintance had been letting him use.
So, I sat and waited—for nearly 90 minutes. During the interim, I typed up a list of questions and fretted over the passing minutes, unable to call him.
He finally called around 1:25 p.m. We talked for about 30 minutes as I scribbled furiously, knowing recording would be useless because there would be no time to listen or transcribe anything.
Typing without Thinking
Once we finished, I started typing, forcing myself into a zone. If tempted to hesitate, I told myself, “Don’t think; write!” On I went, spitting out close to 1,000 words in an hour.
When I finished, I did a quick once-over and rattled off the copy to the editor’s email, just five minutes before deadline.
I had just made some decent money for three hours’ work, but I also felt like I had been run over by a freight train.
“Now I remember why I don’t miss daily newspaper work,” I thought.
I don’t share this as some kind of “glory days” reminiscence, but to remind myself that I have survived tough times before.
That message is particularly relevant since my April revenue will be significantly lower than March’s. It’s not just declining income that has bothered me. It’s the ongoing battle with fatigue and stress from the strange times affecting so many of us.
I also write to remind myself that over the past 25 years we have been through:
- My father’s death and the deaths of both my wife’s parents.
- My wife’s mastectomy.
- The death of our second-oldest daughter.
- My three episodes with heart stents, plus double bypass surgery.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Life is full of challenges. It’s why, as 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
Faith tells us that better days are ahead.