Thirteen-year-old Ricky Hill and his brother Jonathan, 11, waited up late Wednesday hoping to hear from their mother.
Even as they drifted off to sleep, they clung to hope that Army recruiter Lola Renee Bolden, a 40-year-old single parent, had survived a thunderous bomb blast.
But her call never came.
The boys' distress turned into a real-life nightmare about 1 a.m. Thursday.
That's when three men and a woman, all clad in their best Army green, arrived at the door with the horrible news.
Neighbor Mechelle Murray, a single parent with children herself, had taken in the next-door neighbor boys when their mother failed to return home.
Even while calming Ricky and Jonathan, Murray had feared the worst.
"I immediately thought, 'Oh my God, Renee works in that building,' " the 38-year-old accounting student said of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
The Army personnel, who included a chaplain, revealed rescuers had pulled Bolden unconscious from the federal building's wreckage, Murray said.
But the 15-year Army veteran, who worked in a fourth-floor recruiting station, had not survived.
The news devastated the boys.
Ricky, who already had red eyes from earlier crying, broke down after the Army people left. But Jonathan held back his tears.
"(Jonathan) talked about his mother and how he always told her he loved her," Murray said. "She had turned 40 on April 1st, and he was proud of the birthday card and picture he made her. " The card and picture remained on Bolden's door Thursday as her children awaited arrival of relatives from Alabama.