The First Thing I Think When a Tragedy like #Manchester happens.

manchester ttagedy image of candles

I dropped everyone off safely at school and work this morning and quickly whizzed through my Facebook feed, as so many of us do, before getting on with my work.

I was meant to do laundry and wash the floors today.
I was meant to write an article for a brand and shoot a video for a product review.
I was meant to call the dentist and sort details for my eldest’s birthday party.

After momentary confusion at seeing several #Manchester statuses along with sad face and broken heart emojis, it didn’t take long to spot a BBC news link somebody had inevitably shared about the Manchester tragedy. My eyes… Yet another evil act of terror…this time at a pop concert of all places.

19 dead and 50 injured at the time of the article, figures that would rise to 22 and 59 respectively (at the time of writing). Parents who had taken their children, no doubt posting on social media about their excitement, employees of the arena where it happened, adolescents who’d rushed home from school to get ready presumably selfie-ing it up to their heart’s (and Instagram’s) content. All of them ultimately innocent people (despite what ‘mainstream’ terrorists believe about nobody being innocent) who simply thought they were going to have a night to remember.

What a night to remember.

I read the news. And I want to say the first thing I thought was what can I do to help?

I sit here in my Malta bubble feeling emotional but helpless at reports of the people who’ve come together in the most incredible spirit of solidarity to help. Taxi drivers, many of them of different Asian religions in fact, turning off their clocks to take those affected wherever they need to go. People making their homes available to those who were stranded. Sikh temples offering food and shelter to anyone who needed it. People queuing at the blood banks to give blood to help the hospitals treating the injured.

I read the news and I want to say the first thing I felt was shock…

…because that would mean this sort of thing does not happen very often. The rare nature of such an atrocity would make it totally unexpected and shocking.  But shock was not exactly the first thing I felt. Yes I felt the ‘oh God please no’ sadness. A ‘these sickos’ feeling of disgust yes. The ‘not again’ sense of horror, of course. The ‘where next?’ fear. The ‘this has to stop’ anger. Yes yes yes to all of them.

But shock was not the first thing I felt. These carefully planned acts of hate and violence in the name of what… vengeance…justice…religion??? no longer shock me..   That is a tragedy in itself: the fact that the tragedy lies not just in the number of families and lives that are destroyed…but in the fact that this evil has become so commonplace that the ‘shock value’ is shamefully diminishing.

No, I read the news and the first thing I thought was the same as what I always think when something like this happens:

‘Thank God it wasn’t my family, thank God it wasn’t one of my kids’.

Of course this is quickly followed by a feeling of guilt because there are entire families devastated after these events. I can’t imagine the utter grief and hopelessness they are suffering but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has such a reaction every time something like this happens.  

But it could be us next time couldn’t it? Yes I know about laws of attraction so I admit negative thinking like this does nobody any good; think the worst and it can happen. But the fact is it has all got too close to home. A friend of mine told me her two teenage daughters were due to go to that concert tomorrow. Another friend attended Ariana Grande’s Amsterdam leg of the tour. Yet another friend has just returned from a business trip to Manchester. I’ve met somebody who escaped with their life in the 2005 London attacks. My own mother missed an IRA bombing by 30 seconds because she walked back to her car away from where the bomb was about to go off, after realising she hadn’t put money in the parking meter.

Where will it be next time? Who will they get next time? Nobody is immune when they are even targeting the young. 

We all want our children to be healthy. We all want our children to be safe and none of us…NONE of us…wants to outlive our children. When something like the Manchester tragedy happens, it brings home in an instant that we’re all just lucky to be here.

Those parents sent their children to a concert expecting them to return home excitedly sharing news of their big night.

It was meant to be a night to remember. 

What a night to remember.

I was meant to do laundry and wash the floors today.
I was meant to write an article and shoot a YouTube video.
I was meant to call the dentist and sort details for my eldest’s birthday party.

22 people were meant to attend a concert and live to see another day.
59 people were supposed to go to a concert without getting injured.



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