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April 19th


For many people, distinct moments in their life stand out as frozen memories.  For example, my dad can remember the smells, the sounds and the clothes he was wearing on the day that John F. Kennedy was shot.  For me, that moment came on April 19, 1995.  I was a student teacher in Norman, Oklahoma.  As I used the restroom early that morning, I heard a loud boom and then tiles began coming loose one by one off the wall onto my lap.  Rushing out of the restroom and back to the classroom, my mentor teacher and I prepared for what we assumed was an earthquake. 


Maybe it’s an Oklahoma thing, but April 19, 1995 has been a date that Michelle and I talked about when we first met.  I can remember getting ready to leave for class and being frozen in front of a TV screen with other students shocked and alarmed by what was unfolding in my home state.


Throughout our years together, Chris and I have clung to one another as heart-stopping events have occurred in our nation and as a couple. We have tried our best to protect our daughter, Taryn, from any of its aftermath and answer any questions she may have. However, as proud Okies, we often took Taryn to the Oklahoma Memorial, told her of our friends who were there, ones we lost and the fear that stayed with us.


Fast forward a few years and a move to Arizona when I picked up Taryn up from high school.  She said, “We got our final assignment in AP Creative Writing.  We have to write about a moment in history that had a significant impact on our lives in a creative way, like a poem, essay, short story, etc.”  I began thinking about all of the things I had listened to my daughter and her friends talk about, boys, what to wear, what not to wear, boys…but something in me stirred to ask, “So, what are you thinking about?”


I remember saying, “She’s thinking about WHAT?  She wasn’t even born!”  Chris pulled me in close and whispered in my ear, “She has a plan.  It’s a good plan.  She’s okay.”  I wondered, in that moment, how he knew the questions, the guilt and the worry that was running through my mind.  That night, we read our daughter’s first draft.  I gave a quiet thumbs up and excused myself to our bedroom.  


After reading her work, I said, “Wow.  It’s good.  It’s really good.”  Taryn’s response, “You and mom have never been afraid to share that tragedy with me.  I think it makes others, like me, feel brave enough to share their experience too.”  With our daughter’s permission, we have linked her poem that was selected as AP Writing of the Year and submitted to Oklahoma City Memorial.  Her teacher’s response, “A letter grade does not do this work justice.  Thank you for sharing your story.”


  1. I'm speechless with tears in my eyes. You both are an amazing couple. Thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to share this unforgettable day yet still shine the love and healing you have had.

    Taryn an absolutely amazing poem.......

  2. Wow!!! This has really touched my heart!!! It reminds me of when 9-11 happened and my little girl painted the Twin Towers crying. I agree that this is the right way to talk to our children about tragic events that happen so that they didn’t happen in vain or so they aren’t repeated!!! Thanks so much foe sharing your story!!!

  3. WOW!!! I'm speechless at this moment and not quite sure what to say. Other than we never know what we experience in life will come full circle with our children and how they help put things into perspective.


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