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April is a month I cannot forget

The month I began to date my husband should be one of personal joy and fond memory, but instead national tragedies pile one on another.

Published April 22, 2007


What is it about this week in April? What is it that makes this week the anniversary of so many horrific events in U.S. history?

Waco. Oklahoma City. Columbine. Virginia Tech. It's eerie how the anniversaries rolled out as we were barely recovering from the shocking news out of Blacksburg, Va.

For me, the month should be a happy one, because April 25, 1994, was the day I went on a first date with my husband.

We had met a few months earlier at the Miami Herald, where we both worked, and the date was a Marlins-Braves game. It ended up raining and the game was delayed a couple of times, but the Marlins won 4-3 and I had a fun time with someone who enjoys sports as much as I do.

Anyway, that week I didn't think much of it being the anniversary of the Waco, Texas, standoff, where on April 19, 1993, 82 people died during a siege by federal agents on the Branch Davidian religious cult compound. I had other things on my mind.

But a year later, April 19, 1995, it hit me hard.

We were celebrating our first anniversary together with a trip to Marco Island. We woke up and sometime before we were ready to head back to Miami, we turned the TV on and saw the shattering news of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The photographs of so many people, especially children, dead and wounded, and that final death toll: 168.

The disaster overshadowed a precious occasion for me. Making it to a one-year anniversary? No relationship of mine had been that successful. But it was a brief celebration.

In the spring of 1996, I was busy planning for a September wedding. I remember that was the first year I thought, what's going to happen now?

As April approached, I had a sinking feeling inside. It was that time of year and I expected something bad to happen.

So much for an anniversary.

As it turns out, more than 30 tornadoes hit Illinois on April 19, 1996. No one died, and I was relieved.

Still, I don't remember celebrating that year.

It went like that for a while, 1997, 1998. We went to work for the St. Petersburg Times.

Then, April 20, 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold open fire inside Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Fifteen are killed: 12 students, one teacher and the two shooters.

And I can't help but think, not again.

As it turns out, I was at another baseball game the day Columbine happened. It was my day off, but I really felt like I should have gone to work to help with the coverage.

I thought about the mid-April tragedies in the following years as anniversaries approached, somewhat relieved for quieter news.

Last week, however, the pattern re-emerged.

Early Monday, April 16, 2007, I heard about a shooting at Virginia Tech. As the horror became apparent, it turned into one more dark day in April, to rank with Waco, Columbine and Oklahoma City.

I don't know what makes this week in April a time for tragic events. It's part coincidence and part plan, to be sure.

Certainly, I'll never understand.

I do know that the pattern is no longer all in my head, no longer about the week my husband and I started our 13-year relationship.

May next year be one of peace.

[Last modified April 21, 2007, 19:39:36]

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