Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hazard Zet Forward

Rolling over, I open one eye.


One minute before my alarm, as usual.

Taking a deep breath, I push the floral comforter off my body and pour myself out of bed. Clicking the alarm off, my roommate sleeps peacefully. Onto the floor I fall, a large yawn overtakes my body, as I quickly pull on my sweats. The big blue parka hangs off my desk chair. Offering warmth, I quickly cuddle inside as I zip it up. I slip on my sneakers, grab my wallet & key and head out the door. Throwing on my hood as I step out the door.

Rounding the corner, I notice fire trucks lining the drive. A usual fixture at school as the freshman dorm is notorious for fire drills at all hours of the day and night. I have little hesitation as I walk in to the pool deck.

The blue parkas file in behind, crossing the pool deck and descending the stairs to the locker room.
Emerging minutes before 6:00, we all dress alike,  bathing suit, cap, and goggles.

I notice a few freshmen missing, and attribute it to faulty alarm clocks. They'll have to make up the yardage later, I think.

Into the water we jump, the first of a double for the day.

It has been about twenty minutes when I notice between breaths, figures walking on deck. The big parka easily recognizable.

My feet touch the ground as the water calms around me.

I can only hear bits of her conversation:

Fire Department...

Leaving the rec center, I set across campus. I pull the blue parka tight against the January morning winds as I exit the side door. The whirling sound hits me first. Looking up, two helicopters circle the area. I walk with a purpose across the sidewalk, as a stream of ambulance and firetrucks line the drive.

I am only thinking that  I need to find my teammates.

I enter the cafeteria to a sea of faces.

Someone has turned the televisions on to the local news stations.

The image shows the devastation a few feet away. Groups are huddle together, as I make my way through.

Then I see what I need,

two big blue parkas.

My girls are fine.

It is through them, I hear the horror of what is happening, as they live a floor below.

We focus our glance to the television as the newscaster reports. At the bottom of the screen a ticker emerges, "fatalities presumed" crawls across the screen.

An audible gasp fills the room as I feel the tears in my eyes.

Things will never be the same.

The ribbon is a symbol that we remember those lost and share a sense of hope with all those who continue to heal. Ribbons are worn each year on campus and around the country by alumni who remember.
We remember January 19, 2000. 

Hazard Zet Forward my friends. 

translated: At whatever risk, yet go forward


  1. This gave me goosebumps. How frightening to have gone through that.

  2. Yes, goosebumps here too. What a horrible horrible tragedy. I'm so sorry.

  3. Such a tragedy and I'm so sorry you had to go through it.

  4. Oh it gave me the chills and what a horrible tragedy. Your writing is gripping.

  5. Love this post! Goosebumps all around.

    Thinking of you and your loss on that terrible day.

  6. Powerful piece of writing - you took something that I knew about only from television newscasts and made it real. How very scary.

  7. You are a captivating writer! I found myself holding my breath as I read. Great way to honor the victims...and survivors of this tragedy!

  8. Gripping piece. I remember this incident and it's interesting to hear a powerful first hand account.

  9. Oh my goodness this must have been terrifying! I've been in a similar situation (waiting to hear whether friends were ok following a disaster such as this) and it's horribly stressful - the emotional rush - fear, anticipation, relief that it wasn't you, guilt that it wasn't you...
    I have yet to write about my experience, but this post has brought it forward in my mind... perhaps I'll try and get it out soon.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  10. well written. So sorry for your tragedy.

  11. Very well written, I'm sorry for the sadness.

  12. I lost a friend to a fire in college. Seems as if it happened yesterday. Your imagery of the parkas were perfect.

  13. What a horrifying story! I'm so sorry for your loss - but ... I was at the same time relieved it wasn't your team. xo - I love that you linked the ribbon and explained what it meant. Kristen


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