You ask me why I wear black today, why I mourn today, why I keep a time of silence today.
You ask me why, and you don’t know what I mean when I say, “I’m from Oklahoma City.”
What I mean is that I grew up in the shadow. In the shadow of a tree that still stands. In the shadow of 168 white chairs across a lawn. In the shadow of two gates that mark before and after: 9:01 am, 9:03 am.
I grew up in the shadow of the Memorial; I grew up in the shadow of the bombing.
I was a girl who held onto numbers tightly, and among the numbers that I learned from childhood were these: 168 lives, 19 children, 9:02 am. There are 168 chairs for 168 lives, 19 of them smaller for the 19 children. There are 168 seconds of silence, every year, 9:02 am Central time.
That is when the bomb went off; that is when Oklahoma City changed forever.
Two years ago, at his speech at the 20th Anniversary Memorial Service, FBI Director James Comey said, “But it is not the moment that defines us. It is not the act itself that shapes our destiny. It is what comes next.”
I grew up in the shadow, but I also grew up in the light. The light of what came next. The light of what still comes next.
This is the story of my city, light emerging from darkness. And by virtue of this being the story of my city, it is my story.
And so today I remember. I remember the scar, though it heals. I wear the scar on this day. I honor what was lost; I honor what has grown in my lifetime.
This is for you, OKC. Continue reading