‘I read the news today…oh boy’ – Manchester looks like its been at war. ‘A crowd of people stood and stared,’ they’d seen terrorism before. Beatles lyrics are currently racing around my head, music is my comfort today.
Twenty-two people killed, including children as young as eight years old. More than fifty injured. The distressing news just keeps coming. It’s getting so hard to hide my sadness and tears from my children.
How do I protect them from the news? How do I protect them from this increasingly dangerous world?
Images of the Newtown tragedy flash through my brain, as I see a mother cry for her missing daughter. People/children were once again going about their day. People/children were once again murdered.
With no warning. With no reason. With no emotion.
They are now gone. Their families are still trying to find them or find out if they are among the victims. Their families all have our sympathy, our thoughts, and our hearts. We hug our own children safe in the knowledge that they are okay today.
But what about tomorrow?
What new tragedies await all of us?
Today a bridge of pain connects us to Manchester, just like many bridges before. This pain seems unending in recent years. This pain is heartbreaking.
I wish it would stop.
I tell my anxious daughter a few details of the bombing, because I know that she will find out about it at school. I want her to hear my words first. I want her to see my face when I say this is a horrible tragedy, but this is far away, it will not directly affect you.
I never spoke to her about how I was in New York City on 9/11. How I walked for miles among traumatized ashen people. I never told her that her Aunt lost her best friend in the bombing of Pan Am 103, and worked in Tower One of the World Trade Center. I never told her how close to home tragedy has struck. But I have said those words of comfort to her before, about Newtown and a few other tragedies, because I needed to calm her fears.
My words which usually speak passionate truths were carefully edited, carefully cooled down to help her deal with the news. To help her deal with the fact that the safe little world in which she currently exists is shrinking. With each bomb blast, shooting or death from cold hands she will be unwound. Her idea of safety is slowly being liquidated to pay off the debt of her survival. Her artistic brush is forced to paint a picture of a world in frequent mourning, over mornings such as these.
When I was younger I frequently watched the news with my mom. I am not able to do this with my daughter, for it is too often filled with tragic headlines and scary events.
So instead I shield her from as much devastation as I can, surround her with love and comfortable things, and pray she will gain the strength to get through such difficult times.
I let her see me write blogs and poetry often, I tell her that getting out our emotions in a positive way is a blessing and a necessity. She hears the tap tap of the keyboard and the click click of the mouse as I pour out my feelings. I hope she always remembers these sounds. The sounds of subsistence, the sounds that help me get through my toughest times.
I am glad that she has her art to ease her mind. I hope that it always does. I hope that the stroke of her paintbrush can help her survive, thrive and put some color into this often gloomy world.
I often tell her that we should always help others when we are able to. That so many people need assistance, and that there is nothing wrong with asking for it. I tell her that it’s okay to pause her world in order to help someone in need.
After tragedies I feel helpless, sorrowful and weak. I wonder what kind of world we are leaving our children. But watching the kindness of strangers, bystanders and everyday heroes always lifts me up. These people make it possible to see the light in the darkness, the way through the pain.
I want to be one of these people. I am trying to teach my children to be like these people. The light-bringers, the change-makers, the bastions of hope. People who see others as equals and worthy of compassion. People who feel it is our duty as citizens to help lift others up, because they know we will all fall down at some point in our lives.
Manchester needs us now. The world needs us now. We must take a long look in the mirror of truth, and put an end to our apathy. I have been looking in this mirror for years, I am ready to make a difference. I realize that it all starts with me.
And as the tears flow from the sights and sounds of a city that’s an hours train ride from Liverpool, I know that nothing’s gonna change our world – unless we do.