November 5, 2009 was a beautiful day until about 1300 (1:00 p.m.) that afternoon.
By now, you know the story well and I don't have to repeat it for you. So I won't. I don't want to.
Though I was not at the SRP where the shooting happened that day, I saw my share of what happened in the video and photos our own staff brought back. We were affected by what happened. We saw bodies loaded onto helicopters. In our office, we were praying for our staff members who there that day, covering a graduation ceremony at Howze Theater. We couldn't reach them initially. It was terrifying. We endured the hours-long lockdown of the post, and the subsequent traffic jam caused by everyone trying to get home. We were subject to the swath cut through our office in the weeks that followed by both FBI and CID to interview us, grab up our photos and our video, and scare the hell out of us. We went through mandatory psychological screenings, guarded by armed soldiers at another SRP and interviewed by a uniformed Army psychiatrist on the Monday afterward, and then subjected the endless "follow-up" calls from the behavioral health unit at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. What hit me hardest was the look in my daughters' eyes when I came home later than usual because one man decided to commit an act of absolute terrorism at my place of work. I got to come home. Thirteen others never did.
That was enough.
After nearly four years of waiting for justice, Nidal Hasan has been found guilty of murder and attempted murder, stripped of his rank, his pay, and discharged from the Army. He has been sentenced to death. And when he finally is executed, whenever that is, it will be officially over.
But a hole in our lives--all our lives--remains. The survivors who were there at the SRP and saw it all happen, the wounded who lived through it, and the families of the thirteen dead can never have "closure" or "solace" or any of that. Whether a life or death sentence for Hasan, it does not really matter; nothing brings back the life any of us had before.
All of us look at the world differently now. I look for emergency exits every where I go and I have an escape plan, just in case. I don't sit in public places the way I once did. I've changed my life, not because I am afraid, but because I am aware.
There is no closure for that.