I went to bed last night and as per usual spent far too long looking through social media on my phone.
Opening Twitter I saw Manchester was trending. I clicked through to see what was happening and there were a few Tweets describing a bang at the Manchester Arena. Many Tweets claimed that what had been heard was nothing more than a couple of balloons and that the response was being widely exaggerated. I hoped that last part was true.
I awoke after a restless night to the awful news that last night had not been a balloon but a bomb. A suicide bomber had detonated a bomb at the exit of the concert. He had intermingled with his victims and spent time choosing the place at which he could stand and murder the most people possible. 22 people. 22 innocent people who just wanted to spend the evening enjoying music. This murderer also injured many others – 59 at the last count. The reason he did this holds no meaning for me. It is irrelevant.
The thought of how scared those poor children and teenagers (as well as their parents) must have been has played on my mind all day.
I have heard several people on the news say that we should carry on regardless. Get back to normality they advised. I can’t. Not today.
Perhaps once I could have watched the news reports and although I would have felt sorry for the victims and their families I could have gone on with my day as normal. Since becoming a Mother though that has been getting harder and harder to do. I am unsure whether that is because I am a parent or because of the frequency of these attacks.
I have an 11 year old who adores Ariana. She watches all of the shows she is on, on tv and listens to a lot of her music. She wanted to attend the concert last night. Maybe that is why I feel affected. Any of those children could easily have been my child or your child.
Don’t let hate win, they say. But what about fear? How can we stop fear winning?
I want my children to be able to experience the joy and beauty of this world. Seeing the news was upsetting for my daughter this evening; we did of course talk about what had happened but nothing really prepares you for seeing it on a screen I guess.
She turned to me and said, “I won’t be allowed to go to a concert like that for a while then. Who knows when it will happen again”. My instinct is to wrap my children up away from the world and keep them safe by my side. But I know that would not be any kind of life for them.
Instead I forced myself to say “No, concerts are amazing. You will go to plenty I’m sure”. I explained that although there are bad and dark things in the world, they are outnumbered by the good. If she (and my boys) hide indoors away from the dark, then they will miss out on the light too.
People were hurt. It was awful. Amid the carnage and chaos though were the lights. The taxi drivers who switched off their meters to assist in getting people to safety. A man called Jay whose evening with his daughters ended with him cradling a little girl who was alone and injured in his arms. The homeless man called Steve who upon hearing the blast ran into the arena to help. A woman called Paula who led 50 children to the safety of a hotel room until they could be assisted.
They are just a few of the many lights last night. Too many to mention. But I will read their names and try to remember as many as possible because they (along with the victims) are the names which matter. The people of Manchester should be proud of themselves.
Our children need to see the lights in all of this darkness in the world. I would love to be able to protect them from all of the pain and the hurt but it would be naive to expect to be able to. Instead we should try to teach them to be strong enough to fight when they need to. Mentally and emotionally as well as physically because that strength will be their shield and their weapon.
So please. Don’t ask me to act normal.
Don’t ask me to go on with my usual life and draw a line under this. I can’t. But what I intend to do is to keep showing my children those reports of strangers helping strangers in the hope that they can see that on the whole people are good and they are strong and these acts of terror are not and never should be normal.
Mummy & Moose