First--I have been trying to stop by all of the blogs who have been recommending me to their readers and say "thanks". In case I missed any....Thank you!!!! I have been completely amazed/gratified at the response I have been getting. Had I known that blogging this would be this rewarding, I would have done this a couple years ago.
Okay, and now to the gore. :)
I really and truly do not have any dramatic memories of the instant of the blast. I did not notice anything unusual. The moment before the bombing I was standing at the bus stop, watching for my bus and worrying that I missed the last one before Shabbat and would have to waste 20 shekels on a cab. My next conscious moment I was on the ground, looking at the gore around me and at my bloody arm and thinking, “Oh, I was in a suicide bombing”. The second in between the conscious moments was a sort of clap-think of it as the physical manifestation of jumping across a few seconds. If you have ever received a blow to the head and blacked out, you probably know what I mean. One moment you are in A, the next moment you are in Z, and the intervening letters have been bypassed.
I was quite calm and in no real pain. I prayed, but without panic. “G-d, I do not care about anything else, just let me live”. My prayer notwithstanding, I did not perceive my condition as being that serious. I checked my limbs to confirm that all of them were there and ran my tongue over my teeth for any gone missing. None had. I determined, probably on the basis that I did not feel pain, that I was not suffering from internal injuries. Thus reassured, my major concerns were:
1) Keeping myself propped up on one arm because that meant that I was alive,
2) Retrieving the keys that had fallen out of my backpack and were lying on the ground in front of me,
3) That something was wrong with my eye and that the doctors would remove it and
4) That pain was bound to come sooner or later, and I would rather be unconscious for that part.
When the paramedic arrived, he had me lay down on my back. I followed instructions, though not before I instructed him to please put my keys back in my knapsack as I was going to need them. He did so. He then proceeded to wrap something around my head and check my body for injuries. More paramedics arrived, and they moved me onto a stretcher. They asked me my name. 'Gila Weiss', I told them. I asked them to please remember to bring my bag. I told them not to take my eye away from me. I believe I repeated each comment multiple times. My persistence notwithstanding, and unbeknownst to me, my bag containing all of my identification and emergency contact information was left at the scene due to security concerns. To make matters even worse, my speech was somewhat garbled due to injuries to my jaw and my name was understood as "Hila". To add insult to injury, the paramedics received the impression that I was from New York (fighting words to a Washingtonian). In any event, this combination of errors would result in my remaining unidentified for two days, until my friends managed to track me down.
Sans name, location or identification cards, I was loaded onto an ambulance. I caught phrases from the air. “Hadassah Ein Kerem”. Matzav beinuni, moderate condition. I was relieved. I was moderately injured, and I was going to Hadassah Hospital. I am a former Hadassah Organization for Women group co-president, and a big believer in the hospital. So I was going to be okay. They kept on telling me: tishari itanu, stay with us. Unfortunately, I believe that it was about this time I decided that I would rather miss the rest of the process, and wake up once I was better. Please understand, it did occur to me that I might be facing my last moments on Earth, and that I had to stay awake to fight for my life, if need be. If I were to go to sleep, I might never wake up. On the other hand, I really wanted to be unconscious. For what it is worth, I have spoken with at least one other bombing victim who had the exact same reaction. Bombings are just the type of thing one would rather miss. The bliss of oblivion beat out heroics. I closed my eyes, stopped answering questions, and waited to become unconscious.
Unconsciousness did not come, and so I spent my time ignoring the paramedics’ appeals to please, please stay with them and thinking about how I was probably not going to make it to Galia’s for Shabbat dinner. It could not be helped. She would have to understand. When we arrived at the hospital, I opened my eyes. All sorts of medical personnel surrounded me. What is your name? Gila. Again, they heard Hila. I told them I was allergic to sulfa. And then…well…at last! the drugs and blessed unconsciousness took hold. I would remain in a drug induced coma for the next three days.
With no one knowing who I was.