We moved to Oklahoma August 15th, 1994. Being native Californians who had never pictured ourselves living more than five minutes from the beach, the move was quite a shock to everyone, including us. Regardless, we quickly settled into our hundred year old home in our new town of less than a thousand people. It was such a change but one we knew we could get use to. I was the first to actually make the move to Oklahoma with our children. I had gone ahead so the kids could start school. Bob had to stay behind for months, waiting for his early retirement papers to come through and our house to sell. Finally, when the new year began, we were all together again as a family. It was an exciting time in our lives for sure.
Around mid-February, Bob realized he had lost his social security card sometime during the move. We made the trip into Oklahoma City to apply for a replacement card. Exploring our new state was so thrilling. There was so much to see and do. The downtown reminded us of a mini version of downtown Los Angeles, only much cleaner and friendlier. The art deco buildings were beautiful and the tree lined streets were so inviting for a walk. This particular day, we parked near the Murrah building and went in looking for the Social Security office. Once inside, we quickly found the office. At the counter, a very personable woman helped Bob fill out the form for a new card and we were on our way. We knew being Oklahomans was going to agree with us.
Only two months later, I was at our kitchen sink doing dishes when a neighbor ran in the backdoor. She was crying, saying something about a bombing and that I should turn the television on. As I stood in the living room with Bonnie, listening to the unbelievable news of the Murrah Building being bombed, I remembered Bob was working one street over from Murrah that day. I ran to the phone, feeling as if I were running in slow-motion. Before I could reach for the receiver, the phone rang. It was Bob letting me know, although he was shaken, he was physically fine. I desperately wanted to go downtown and help. All I could think about was that friendly woman at Social Security who had helped us. I know this sounds crazy but I even dialed her number twice, praying she would answer the phone. I knew she wouldn’t but I so wanted her to. I could not stop crying and felt the world had truly gone mad.
A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to work a crisis hotline for anyone effected by the bombing. My first and last call was with a young mother who had lost her baby in the Murrah building. His name was Tevin D'Aundrae Garrett and he was only sixteen months old. I will never forget that call. It only lasted about forty-five minutes but it changed my life forever. Never had I heard such anguish as I did that day. Listening to the sorrow in this young woman’s voice was almost overwhelming. All the training in the world could not have prepared me for such grief. As I listened and did my best to comfort her, knowing there were no words that would ever fix this kind of pain, I knew that I was an Oklahoman that day. This mother and I would forever be connected by this horrible tragedy. It was not the way I would have wanted to come to realize I truly belonged to this land but I do. And for that, I am thankful today.
Tevin D'Aundrae Garrett