When the initial shock of the blast subsided, my sister and I sat up to take inventory and check on each other. As we huddled together in the mass of rubble that used to be a train car, we both praised the Lord that we were alive. Our nearest neighbors were not so fortunate.
While waiting for the paramedics, we drew strength from the felt presence of Christ, each other and the amazing citizens who jumped aboard our train in the face of a collapse or possible explosion to give us aid.
Scared and barely conscious, the medics carried us to the hospital where we were separated for surgery. Once in the recovery room, my sister and I told everyone within ear shot to locate our sister and call our family. It took several hours, but we were reunited in the middle of the night when we moved to a less crowded hospital.
Our family heard about the bombing almost as soon as they woke up, but there was no news from us. Mom, Dad and little Sis waited by the phone for a reassuring phone call only to hear a British doctor inform them that my sister was badly injured and I was not in the system yet. Friends mobilized, calling politicians, to update passports and book flights. Within 24 hours, my mom was on the ground in London, her best friend flying in later that day on a providentially timed missions trip.
We underwent another surgery to stabilize us for a flight to the U.S. Workers at Duke Hospital pulled 24-hour shifts to arrange transport. After 4 days in London's hospitals and a long uncomfortable flight, we touched down in Raleigh-Durham to be greeted by Dad, little sister and DH (dear boyfriend at the time).
Once in the United States, we began to realize that this event touched many more people than our little family. The national news media was lining up to interview and photograph us as we made our recovery. Apparently, we were the only two Americans seriously injured, and the story of two sisters surviving the blast together was front page news. Our rooms were filled with bribes from new stations - flowers, gift baskets, the first available copies of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
On the big screen in Times Square during the Today Show Interview
Soon after we began to receive other gifts and cards as well, but this time from well wishers all around the country, people we had never met sending their thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. We were overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we received from hundreds of individuals concerned for our family.
As we regained strength, we found our voice in the media. God worked mightily in our hearts. A spirit of peace and forgiveness came over us almost immediately. When the interviews began, we were ready to tell the world that God forgave us and gave us the grace to forgive our attackers. Some people hated our message and others embraced it. We were determined to use this national platform to turn what man meant for evil into God's glory.
After nearly two weeks in the hospital and six surgeries a piece, we flew home. A crowd of our friends greeted us at the airport, including 1 month old Cindy Kate. The celebration was awesome, although draining. Did I mention it included another news interview? It was months (including a trip to New York for the Today Show) before the media attention died down.
A decade after the blast and its far-reaching consequences, I still field questions about the sizable scars on my ankle and arm. When I explain where they came from, people frequently apologize to me for dredging up the memory and that it happened at all. But I don't feel the need for the apology. My life rolled along very smoothly until that point - no major bumps. God prepared me perfectly as only He can for that moment. I knew who He was, that His character is true, that He is not caught by surprise and that He plans good for His children. The bombing only strengthened my understanding. As I hit the gauntlet of life's bumps following that summer, the bombing served as a reference for me, reminding me that God is good and at work even in horrible circumstances.
So, if you notice a huge scar on my arm, or I "ignore"you on my now deaf right side, you know the background. A horrible, amazing tragedy occurred that God twisted and molded and turned into His glory. All praise be to our God and Father who sits upon the throne in Heaven!!