My eyes, glued to the scene. The dust of the debris invaded my nose. My hands wanted to prevent the sounds of the sirens and the cries, but I couldn’t move. 1,700 miles away from Oklahoma City, I was there only by the waves of the TV, but I had walked that place, breathed the same air as those people. “Oh God, no!”
Floors dangled, wires sparked, glass fell. “Did I know, by name or face, anyone in that building?”
Often, I reached for the phone but fear would not let me dial. So I stayed, stared and mesmerized as reality sank in.
“It appears to be an attack of a terrorist group here on American soil, in our very heartland,” the reporter said hours after the bomb went off.
My whole body jumped at the sound of the phone. My heart, already heavy, dropped deeper into my gut. My eyelids closed as I inhaled courage to answer. The words I feared were spoken.
“Jill’s missing.” No words to return, just tears flowed. We prayed, my friend and I who went to college with Jill. So many moments. A personal favorite, some planned and some impromptu, were the dance scenes in the basement of Southern Nazarene University. For a white girl, she could move. So could I. Of course that drew us together. That and the fact that I would not have passed statistics without the hours of tutoring by my “blonde-bombshell” friend.
She never saw herself that way. To insecure. To humble. But only those close to her saw her beauty, inside and out. If only we could convince her. Others were intimidated by the confidence she exuded.
Days of memories and thoughts and prayers passed before the next phone call.
“She died instantly. No debris under her nail confirms that she didn’t try to dig her way out.” The phone began to slip.
It may have been a wall, or the concrete floor from above, but a blow to the back of her head took her life in a moment. All that is left behind are the moments that we shared with her.
To know Jill was to love her or battle wits with her, or both.
I could recount the funeral, the memorial service or the devastating details that took her life or the other 167 lives that day. Truth is, the details only stir anger. The loss stirs sadness. The lack of sense to be made only causes madness of the mind.
Instead, I chose joy. Joy in the memories. Joy in the way it brought a city and a small university together. Most of all, Joy that I know her death brought me to a higher standard of life.
We sat mid way back in the large auditorium where her memorial took place. A vision occurred as I watched them roll her closed casket out the front door of that eerie, silent room. Jill, as she entered the gates of God’s kingdom, was embraced by God, who ran to her, picked her up and swung her around and celebrated, with dance music of course, (a little Janet Jackson always got us going) what she gave as she lived out her life on this earth.
That vision has been motivation behind my life. A challenge to live a life that warrants God running to me and embracing me and saying, “well done, my good and faithful servant, thank you for what you did in my name.”
Thank you, Jill Randolph, for impacting my life, even long after you were taken to soon. But, Heaven is a little brighter now!