Omar L. Gallaga is an administration reporter for The Oklahoma Daily,

the campus newspaper for the University of Oklahoma.

He has been on staff for two years and will serve as managing

editor next fall. This is his account of his ninth day helping

to cover the bombing in downtown Oklahoma City.

Varying times --- April 27, 1995 ---- Day 9

Can't stand the heat?

Today was the worst day yet. For me, I mean. It's been bad for

everyone, but my personal pain threshold was reached today, and I've

become so accustomed to crying jags and total emotional outbursts

(good and bad), that I might not have even remembered most of today if

I wasn't forcing myself to sit down and relive it all.

The worst so far had been the man whose mother was missing in the

building. He had been pretty well collected (he was, after all, a

minister), and usually Rudolf and Michelle had dealt with grieving


Again, it's this incredibly zen thing where good and bad come

together in this intricate pattern. Zen was one of the things

Barbara and I discussed last night and some of it stuck with me.

Just accepting and being instead of defining. I'm pretty agnostic

myself (I probably already mentioned that) and to me, everything I do

every day defines what I believe and who I am. I don't know where it

leaves me, religiously speaking, but it has worked for me so far and,

although I'm still searching for some answers, I don't see much

reason to change now.

The point being: life is a tapestry. There was a Piers Anthony

book I read -- With a Tangled Skein. It was part of his Incarnations

of Immortality books where every facet of life was personified into

an actual person -- Death, Time, Fate, War and Nature were each

people. In With a Tangled Skein, Fate was the weaver on life's loom.

Threads represented human lives, cut when they neared their end and

criss-crossing over other threads on the huge loom.

I know I'm rambling about concepts I can only grasp in abstract

ways, but it is just this feeling that I ought to be sad when I'm

really not and that if I'm supposed to be happy about things in my

life, why do I cry when I have spare moments to think about the last

week and why am I finally starting to get within shouting distance of

the term doctors usually use -- emotional toll? Life is terrible and

wonderful and my life especially right now has the highs and lows of

the movie Mr. Jones, where Richard Gere played a bi-polar manic


Let's not give this movie too much credit -- when I refer to it I

mean the emotional lows of seeing that piece of crap and the

emotional high I got when the credits rolled and I got up to

leave the theater.

I shake sometimes now when my body can't decide whether it wants

to be happy or sad. I listen to loud rock music (Nine Inch Nails,

Hole, Pearl Jam) whenever I'm on the road. I scream right along with

Trent Reznor and sometimes that helps. It's a release - a pressure

valve, therapeutic, I hope. Probably unhealthy as hell - Nine Inch

Nails is not exactly in the same league as Don't Worry, Be Happy, but

I take my release where I can get it, and if it's screaming at the

top of my lungs on I-35, so be it.

Mostly, though, I'm just excited. Adrenaline seems to have been

stored up for the last 20 years for just this week because it hasn't

run out yet. The late hours writing have not slowed me down or made

my ass drag downtown.

I think what it is is that I'm living. Not the living you do when

you watch Melrose Place (in fact, my TV hasn't been on in days. The

only television I've seen is news broadcasts at work.), but real out

there, real world living, where you have ups and downs and sometimes

lulling mids, but without the help of Prozac.

I am living. Rather, I am alive. And for the time being, I feel


Late #$*^&ing start

Later on tonight I would see part of Four Weddings and a Funeral

which is amazing because I acted out the entire opening scene when I

woke up late this morning for my film evaluation.

It was 9:30. The class starts at 9 a.m. The film, about 45

minutes, would end about 10 a.m. after the Prof. gave a short

preamble about the film.

I raced to get dressed, using some amazingly colorful language.

It took about 15 minutes, and I was off, racing to find parking and

get there before he dismissed class.

I was worried because I needed to get one of the blue evaluation

sheets required to get a grade on the evaluation. I figured if I

snuck in as he dismissed class and got the sheet, I could miss the

film -- I was sure I could rent The Thin Blue Line somewhere over

the weekend.

I got there about 10 minutes early and studied for my Human

Resource Management quiz (about an hour away) while waiting for class

to get out.

When it did, I wove my way in and got the blue sheet. Matt and

Michelle were talking about the movie, amazed that someone had been

convicted. I shut my ears. I didn't want to hear about the ending.

We were all talking again about catching up on homework. As we

walked to the newsroom, Matt and I fretted about the quiz. Neither

of us had studied and Matt never even bought the books for the class.

I went through some of the book with him when we got to the


In my box, I found a nice ribbon with an angel pin. It was better

than my homemade blue ribbon, so I replaced it and pinned it to my

green Oklahoma Daily shirt.

(I should point out that our Oklahoma Daily shirts are forest

green long-sleeves that have our logo, then read, "A scandal in every

headline, a headline in every scandal.")

Matt and I continued to study and, five minutes after we were

supposed to be in class, we made it upstairs.

The test went better than it had any right to. Somehow, I

remembered everything I'd skimmed the night before and worked it into

the essay portion. I think I did well.

Downstairs, I began to read through email to see if I'd gotten

anything about my personal accounts. Just a few notes of praise and

some information about related stories.


Mas'ood walked in and we started talking about my accounts. He

told me he'd read Day 7, which I emailed out last night, and he

thought the writing was getting better and I was really finding my

voice. I thanked him.

Mas'ood has been my biggest supporter in writing these and he is

usually the one who points out connections in my writing and motifs

that I don't even notice writing, but probably incorporate


He is also the person who first suggested I had enough material to

start working on a book.

Well, first of all, it's presumptuous as hell. I'm assuming that

people will pay to read about some person who wasn't directly

involved in the explosion, but just happened to be there.

Still, it had it's points -- it was a reporter's view, and I was

sure those vets out there from CNN and The New York Times weren't

staying up three hours a night every night keeping personal journals.

Also, I thought the Internet angle was interesting -- about how I

helped (even in a small part) to put us up as one of the first and

most popular (and best, I truly believe) web sites to have

continually updated information about the explosion.

As a lark, Mas'ood said I should call publishing houses.

I called info and reached Doubleday. They told me they didn't

look at manuscripts without an agent. I don't know why I hadn't

thought of that before.

So I need an agent. A literary agent. Wow.

I couldn't think of any off-hand, so I ran upstairs to the

journalism library and grabbed a copy of the 1995 Writer's Market.

No agencies.

I went back and exchanged the book for a copy of Writer's Digest.

In the back pages, I saw literary agencies that looked like real

writer ghettos, the kind of agencies where your book would be

published at a fee to you to be distributed in a province in Canada

you've never heard of.

One caught my eye. The ad looked professional (yes, poor gullible

me) and it looked like they'd represented some good writers.

I made a phone call, explaining what I'd written and what angle it

was taking and finally, after some phone transferring, I was speaking

to a person I think is a senior editor.

I explained my story. She seemed genuinely interested. She

suggested angles and selling points -- she wanted a brief summation

of what we'd done on the web. She thought a good angle would be a

rookie reporter covering this huge story. Well, okay.

She stressed that she needed me to send out manuscripts, cover

letter, clips we'd run in The Daily, selling points and summaries

sent out at soon as possible.

Then: what made me believe it could really happen: not only was

she talking percentage numbers (they'd get 15 percent domestic, 20

percent foreign), but she asked that on the cover letter, I direct

her secretary to put it directly on her desk where it wouldn't sit in

stacks of other manuscripts. I was impressed.

Mas'ood and I high-5'd each other all over the place and soon I

was telling people in the newsroom what happened.

My god. A book. It's what I'd always wanted to do.

I'm realistic - I know I can be good writer, but how much of this

is of interest to anyone who doesn't know me or who is willing to

shell out money to read about the bombing? I'm not Bob Woodward.

My book will not topple the government and set people's hair on fire.

But still, it's a nice dream and it's a nice idea. Who knows what

will come of it, and it gives me one more reason to keep doing what

I'm doing for as long as anyone cares to read about it.

I was so pumped about the possible book deal that during my

lunchtime between classes and work I drove home and typed for almost

an hour, then edited and put days 4 and 5 up on the web site.

I looked at my watch. It was past 1 p.m. I decided to head back

to the newsroom and see if Joy wanted me to go downtown.

I made a few phone calls to sources I wanted to talk to for the

story about Larry. Pretty soon, I saw it was getting close to 2 p.m.

Being there

We'd had some amazing color pictures from inside the building that

we were going to run on a two page spread, but that idea was nixed

when the person who gave us the photos (I think it was a firefighter)

backed out at the last minute because they were afraid they'd get in


We'd had to pull out the two page spread, leaving Annette and the

other editors feeling pretty down.

Larry had made me an offer to take a camera I'd give him to the

site and have one of their photographers take photos for me. Since I

figured the offer still stood, I told Joy and she said it was a good

idea and while I was down there I could cover the 3 p.m. press

conference and write an overview like I'd been doing.

I borrowed a camera from Jack's office. I wanted to get there

early, and I was already running late. I knew I needed to get back

early to write the feature on Larry.

I had to scramble to find color film, so on the way, I stopped at

a gas station where I got some 400 speed. Foregoing a real

lunch, I grabbed a Rice Crispies Treat (only it was the general type

that is probably manufactured by a farm where they just happen to

grow rice anyway) and a Mountain Dew.

I raced along the highway. Lights were still on during the day.

It made me feel a little better.

Press and families

I got there early for the press conference -- about 2:30 p.m.

One of the first people I ran into was the great George Lang, who

writes for the Oklahoma Gazette, a weekly tabloid-sized publication.

George is one of those amazingly funny writers that can make

practically anything he writes witty and entertaining. I remembered

a column he'd written when he was doing entertainment for

The Daily. At the height of the Beavis and Butthead craze, he'd called

headbanging teens "Proto-Beavi."

I had never seem him look so grim. His lips were drawn and his

eyes, usually pits of cynicism aimed at what we like to call Pop

Culture, were tired and sad.

We talked for a while about how overwhelming it all was. He'd

been downtown the day of the explosion and had been one of the many

to run for their lives when there was the threat of a second bomb.

George told me he'd been lucky enough to become part of the

journalistic pool that would get to go near the Murrah building.

"Well, they had a drawing for local weeklies, and we were the only

ones here."

He suggested I be there 11 a.m. tomorrow to make sure I'd be part

of one of the pools.

I called Larry at the free phones. His cellular either wasn't

working or he wasn't answering. I decided to just brace myself for

the press conference.

About that time, I ran into Barbara. She was wandering around

getting other local color. We chatted and I got to meet Erik, who is

also from Muskogee and is, I would learn later, very knowledgeable in

all areas of entertainment, up to and including Broadway musicals. I

was again amazed at the way Muskogee (owned by Gannett) seemed to be

hoarding some amazingly intelligent people.

George was walking back and forth piecing things together. He was

to go in at about 3 p.m. He pointed out something to me he thought

was unbelievable tacky -- a grieving family, he said, was doing

Geraldo and sitting in director's chairs.

He pointed them out at west end of the press area and there they

were -- two men, a woman and two young boys, sitting in front of a

camera crew. The woman was talking about terrorism and how sick the

people who had done it were.

I thought, Geraldo. How could anyone who'd suffered any kind of

loss like them want to go on a talk show?

Barbara and I did some investigating and found out their last name

was Treanor. We discovered they'd lost a daughter (4 and a half

years old) and the husband's parents. The mother held in her hands

an 8 X 10 photo of the daughter.

They were still sitting in the director's chairs and I wandered

back over to the press conference where Hansen would speak. He ended

up having an assistant talk and then reporters who'd been near the

Murrah building told about what they'd seen to other reporters.

I wandered back to the family with Barbara. They were getting up

to leave. Spotting our chance, we walked with trepidation to them.

The mother, the father, a brother and the two sons were walking

off camera, towards us. Barbara, me and another print reporter

approached them.

The woman began talking immediately. We asked for her name and

the name of her husband.

She began telling us about her daughter as her husband spoke to

another reporter next to us. Their words were mixing together and I

wasn't sure who I should be listing to.

Kathleen (the mother) began describing her daughter. She called

her an angel. She showed us a shirt that had been made by a friend

of the family. On another wavelength, I was hearing the husband

(Mark) talk about how if the bombers hadn't wanted to kill children,

they could have set the bomb off at night when no one was there.

Kathleen continued to describe her. I was tape recording it all,

which I usually don't do, but I thought it was too important to risk

getting quotes even a little off and I thought maybe Mas'ood would

want to put audio clips on the web site.

She said things like "She was just a normal little girl. She

loved to sing. She loved to pick flowers."

I was already tearing up, trying to take notes with blurry vision.

Barbara asked a few more questions while I just stood, writing,

trying not to meet the eyes of the devastated mother.

I stopped writing for a minute and looked at the picture of Ashley

Eckles, 4. She was a pretty little blonde girl in a frilly pink and

white dress. She wore a white had with a large pink bow. She was

beautiful. An angel, my frazzled mind thought.

Kathleen was saying her faith had carried her through the rough

times. For a mother who had buried her daughter just days before

(Monday), she sounded resilient and seemed to be coping well.

"I wouldn't dream of bringing her back from that beautiful place

she's gone to," I think she said. I couldn't take much more. I was

hurting. My breath was shallow and even though there were only three

reporters, I felt like was in the middle of a huge crowd,

suffocating, claustrophobic.

Barbara continued, obviously shaken. She put her hand on the

woman's shoulder as she continued, carefully, to ask the questions

that needed to be asked. She spoke to one of the young boys, asking

him how he liked the teddy bear Salvation Army workers had given him.

I stumbled over to the husband. He looked in much worse shape.

He was shaken, stunned. His face was the hard mask of loss and grief

I'd seen too much of since last Wednesday.

He was talking about his parents, who'd led simple lives and had

lived on a farm. He spoke in short sentences.

I asked him what his parents had been like. He told me his father

had always supported him, no matter what. He began to cry when he

described a time his father had helped him pay for college so he

could go into law enforcement, despite being worried that his son

would be "blown up by terrorists or shot."

I could barely write. My notes were coming out like huge

scribbles. My hand was shaking.

When he cried, I almost did. Tears were forming. My lip

quivered. I asked for the names of his parents and their ages. It

was all I could do to keep from walking away.

I looked at Barbara. She had the look that said she wanted to get

the hell out, now. She wasn't asking any more questions.

I looked down at my notes. I had all I needed and I thought she

did too. We both had a hand on each of Mark's shoulders. I was

worried the weight would make him collapse.

Instead, he got hugs from both me and Barbara. He seemed

genuinely grateful. He thanked us and let us walk away, having done

all we could do.

There is more that I didn't write, because even now it's too

painful. Never before have I felt this kind of pain just trying to

do my job. I've done obituaries and I've dealt with death, but never

in such a personal, direct way.

I'm including the final story at the end of this document, hoping

it will convey the sadness and loss I felt.

Difficulty, an apology

Barbara and I retreated to the free phones where we both broke

down. "Are you okay?" she asked.

"No, but I will be," I said. We hugged and both kept mumbling.

"This was bad, this was soooo bad."

Barbara said she wanted to go. "I think it's time to leave

Oklahoma City," she was saying. I had to agree.

I called Joy. She heard the sound of my voice and began soothing

me. She was worried and I was grateful.

I told her I may not have the Larry feature because I still

couldn't find him, but that I had something maybe better -- no daily

update, but a good story about a family who'd lost a daughter and two


Joy thanks me and told me I was doing a good job. I said bye and

hung the phone up, almost missing the phone cradle.

Cradle. Ashley. She would have been five in July.

I called Larry's cellular and asked about photos. He told me he

already had some great color photos for me. They were at his house

in Norman and if I went by, his wife would give them to me. I

thanked him, ready to throw a dinner party in his honor.

It was about 4 p.m. I needed to head out.

On the way out, I wanted a snack. I was starting to feel better.

The hurt was starting to fade a little. I needed some water or an

apple or something.

Barbara, Erik and I stood near the Salvation Army booth. Then I

saw her. The AP woman. She was coming right for me.

I looked around quickly. If she'd already spotted me, it would

probably do no good to run around the booth.

She came right for me, almost smiling.

"Hi. I'm from AP. What was your name?"

I panicked. I wanted to say something, anything but my name. I

didn't want to be blacklisted --- to have burned a career bridge

before I'd even left college. I wanted to shout, "Spiro! Spiro


Instead, softly, I said, "Omar."

"And your last name?"

I told her. She introduced herself and before she could go any

further, I apologized. I told her I was sorry for snapping and that

I'd been on an adrenaline high and I felt stupid for the whole thing.

I rambled a bit more, probably.

She seemed surprised. "Your apology really means a lot to me."

She told me that I had argued with her before in front of an AP guy

from the national bureau and it had embarrassed her. She began to be

really friendly, shaking my hand and offering her assistance whenever

I needed it. She said to call anytime I needed anything from AP.

When she walked away, I gave a huge sigh. I'd told her that it

had been my fault and not to call Jack or David Dary or any of my

superiors. I wanted to protect Jack at all costs because it was my

mouth that has caused all this and he (or David Dary for that matter)

didn't deserve any grief from it.

As I walked away from the booth, I grabbed a King-Sized

Butterfinger. I walked up to the AP woman, who was chatting with

another reporter, and offered the Butterfinger. "It's on me!" I

said. She took it, smiled, thanked me and put it in her pocket.

Peace offering made, I went off with Barbara and we chatted.

Writing, hot tubbing and Four Weddings

Barbara said she and Erik were going to Kinko's to write and fax

their stories to Muskogee instead of driving all the way down to


She said they'd planned to go hot-tubbing after work and that I

was invited to come. I gave an inward huzzah! and said goodbye. I'd

call her later and check on a time but, she told me, it would have to

be after E.R.

I remembered watching TV once upon a time and shook my head.

The drive back was quick and painless. I was still listening to

Nine Inch Nails and my scream therapy was working well. I'd almost

worked through the pain I'd been feeling. I was dreading going back

to write about what I'd seen, so I tried to take my mind off it.

I stopped at Larry's home, just off an access road near a Red

Lobster restaurant. His wife was ready for me and had the photos

in an enveloped labeled Southwestern Bell Telephone. I thanked

her and went to my car. I took out the pictures. Incredible.

One was an aerial shot of the entire area. It showed exactly

how bad the devastation had been and how wide the area the blast

had affected was.

The second photo (these were all about 8 X 10) was a collage of

rescue workers, Salvation Army people and twisted pieces of rubble.

A logo said something like, "Oklahoma thanks you!"

The third was a picture taken from behind a pile of rubble, it

seemed, and showing two firefighters working, one of them welding

something, sparks flying around him. I was impressed.

Back at the newsroom, Joy loved the photos and was receptive to my

idea about the family story.

I had a roll of color film I'd taken and I had a few

snapshots of the family sitting on the director's chairs. Since we

can only process black and white film, Annette agreed to take the

film to Wal-Mart for an hour-development.

I was getting a little distracted. Elizabeth, our ace

entertainment reporter, was talking to me about Jack, a world-premier

world-premiere musical about JFK being performed at OU with John

Cullum, an actor from Northern Exposure.

Mas'ood was talking politics with me. Joy saw that I wasn't

getting much done and, bless her, and asked people to let me get

back to my writing.

Heather, our freshman designer (she hates that we emphasize

freshman, but I think it makes what she does sound more

impressive), was going to pick up food and I asked her to get me a

Sooner Club at New York Bagel and Deli. The Sooner Club (the way I

order it at least), is a hot everything bagel with turkey, roast beef

melted cheddar and mayo. YUUUUMMMMMMM..

After she got back, I was still transcribing my notes about the

family. I was listening to the tape recording as I wrote. It was

warbly, but workable. I was crying again, without even knowing it.

Heather came to me and gave me a hug and my food. She asked if I was


I gave her the same answer I'd given Barbara. "No, but I will be."

The story was written pretty quickly. It had made me cry while

I wrote it, so I figured I had something pretty emotional going.

Joy looked at the story, made some minor changes and thanked me.

She would pause occasionally while she read a particularly painful

quote and say, "oh my god." I felt the same way.

That done, I went to Wal-Mart to pick up the film. I was waiting

around in line while people got their birthday party and bike trips

photos back. I wondered how many people would want to see pictures

of a decimated family in the foreground with a decimated building

behind them.

I paid for the photos, bought more film for tomorrow and left.

Back at the newsroom, I picked the picture I thought had the most

emotion, dropped it off in the backshop and called Barbara.

There was no answer at the Holiday Inn, so I started calling

Kinko's in OKC. She wasn't at any of about eight shops. I tried the

room again. She'd just gotten in.

"We're going hot-tubbing right after E.R.. Are you coming?"

It was about 9. I told her I'd be right over.

I drove home quickly to get a pair of shorts to swim in. I

grabbed a towel and a general change of clothing, which I won't go

into because, well, it isn't terribly interesting.

I was driving back towards the highway when I realized I'd

forgotten to take a printout of my story to show to Barbara and

compare with what she wrote. I ran back to the newsroom.

Mas'ood and Joy began to get me worried -- Mas'ood thought he'd

seen the Treanor family on TV and that the wife had worked in the

federal building. Mas'ood said he thought the two sons were supposed

to have been in the day care.

This was a huge detail to have left out if it was true. I couldn't

imagine the mother not mentioning that if it were true.

We called The Oklahoman and Channel 9 to see if they had anything

about it. There was going to be a long delay, but as it turned out,

it wasn't true -- neither the station nor the station had anything

that indicated what we thought might be true. And the more Mas'ood

thought about it, the less sure he was it was the same family. We

decided to let the story stand and if any info came in before page

deadline, it would be changed.

I was running late. It was about 9:50 p.m. I got into my car and

drove like a demon, making it all the way to the other side of

Oklahoma City in about 20 minutes.

I got to room 333 of the Holiday Inn and knocked. Barbara and

Erik were watching Four Weddings and a Funeral.

It was about the last half hour of it and I sat with them.

We each changed to go hot tubbing and soon, we were three in

swimwear searching for a body of warm water.

We trudged along moist carpets that felt like they'd just been


Big disappointment -- the pool was closed! It had shut down at

10 p.m., so we were pretty well screwed.

We all went back to the room, dejected, and changed back into our

street clothes. We watched a little TV, then began talking. Not,

thank god, about the explosion. We talked about movies and work and

everything else. It was good conversation -- fun and bright and

funny. I was beginning to feel the strain of the day get washed


The night continued, as it usually tends to. It was a good time,

and I was sad to leave. We all looked tired. I asked Barbara if she

wanted to go out and get coffee and she said she needed the sleep

more than any drink.

I left just after midnight. Barbara walked me out.

We chatted a little longer about nothing in particular. I got

ready to go. I gave her a hug. The hug became a small kiss. It was

a small kiss, I'll repeat -- bigger than a peck, smaller than

anything else.

But after the day I'd had, it was a kind of affirmation of

humanity. I could be happy. I was maybe entitled.

It was a small thing, this kiss. I hugged her and walked away.

Some kind of small romance in the midst of chaos, brought about by

the destructive force of a deadly bomb. Cosmically strange,

wonderful and unlikely all at the same time.

My feelings were messed up. I was going bi-polar again. She's

going back to Muskogee tomorrow. Two ships passing. A midsummer

night's... Again, cosmically strange.

I decided not to think too much of it -- not to let my feelings

take over, whatever they might be. I was confused, a little afraid,

very tired. So why, when I got into my car, was I suddenly so happy?

Was I feeling freed of all the bad stuff that had collected in my


I didn't know. I couldn't unlock that mystery any more than I

could figure out how a crazed sicko could set a bomb off in downtown

Oklahoma City.

I drove home, mind off in space, and wrote the rest of the night

until at about 3:30 a.m., I gave in to fatigue and slept, knowing I'd

have to be dressed and ready to head downtown by 10 a.m. to get in

the reporter pool.


TRAGEDY -- Ashley Eckles would have had her fifth birthday in July.

By Omar Gallaga

The Oklahoma Daily

A family is doing its best to keep the memory of an angel alive.
Mark Treanor and his wife, Kathleen, suffered a devastating
blow in the Oklahoma City bombing April 19. Their daughter, Ashley
Eckles, 4 and a half, and Mark's parents were killed in the Social

Security office of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building.

Ashley was buried Monday. Luther Treanor, 62, and his wife

LaRue, 55, will be buried today.

The Treanors said their faith and the outpouring of love from

the Oklahoma community has helped them through this terrible time.

Still, the sadness remains of losing the child Kathleen calls,

"a pretty little happy blue-eyed, blond-headed girl."

"I still break down inside," she said. "I get wet-eyed. I

keep expecting to go around the corner and have her hug my leg

and hear, 'Mommy, Mommy, I'm so glad you're home!'"

Kathleen and her family were near the Murrah building Wednesday,

holding the photo of a happy young girl wearing a pink and white

ruffled dress and a white had with a pink bow.

"She was just a normal little girl. She liked to sing. She

liked to pick flowers. She always had a hug or a kiss for everyone.

She had Daddy wrapped around her little finger like all little

girls are supposed to."

She calls Ashley an angel, and thus, has accepted the reality

of her daughter's passing. "I could never ask my little girl to

come back from that beautiful place she's at now."

More fond memories. More thoughts of her beautiful daughter's

smile. The daughter who would have turned five on July 25.

"We just had a batch of kittens. She was so happy. She went out

there for hours and played with kittens. She came in yelling,

'Mommy, Mommy, Jingles had her kittens! Mommy, can we keep them


"I'm going to have to keep them because they were something

Ashley loved."

Mark, who lost his parents as well as his daughter to the blast,

said he is not angry.

"Anger would be useless right now. If the person who did this

has a conscience, I'm sure he feels guilt. I have faith in the

American justice system that they will find him and (he) will

be punished."

His father worked at Townley's Dairy for about 29 years. He

was to retire soon to live on his farm with his wife, who'd

worked as a cook.

"They were just very simple people," Mark said. "They lived

on a farm all their lives. They hardly ever even came to Oklahoma


There is almost disbelief in his voice as he talked about

the explosion. "It's just so hard to believe that they were here.

They were at the Social Security office. They just happened to get

a 9 o'clock appointment."

What finally breaks Mark down is the thought of his father, who

supported him in all respects, including his decision to pursue

a master's degree at the University of Central Oklahoma. "I was

trying to get back into law enforcement, but I didn't think I

could afford it. He told me not to worry about it. Even though

he didn't want me to, he supported me."

Mark pauses.

"He was worried I'd be blown up by terrorists or shot, or

something like that. He always worried about me, but he

supported me. That's the thing I always remember about him."

Kathleen and Mark say they wish their family will be able

to move on. Their two sons, Zachary, 6, and David, 9, are just

starting to feel the impact of their loss.

It is the memories the family clings to now, knowing that

not even time can steal those.

"This was senseless," Kathleen said. "This was an act of

evil. Tomorrow or two weeks from now or a month from now people

will start to forget. I don't want anyone to forget."

With their picture of a happy blond girl with the beautiful

smile, it is hard to imagine that anyone could.

Copyright 1995 by Publications Board, Univeristy of Oklahoma


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Copyright ©1995-2001 by Omar L. Gallaga