Sunday 21st May feels like a long time ago. That was a happy day. The two weeks since then have not been easy for pretty much everyone. And still the pain and horror goes on.
I have tried to write this so many times over the last fortnight since the attack on Manchester, but the words have always been as jumbled as the thoughts. There is no way to make sense of it still. And now the London attack has shook us again.
Until Monday 22nd May I had been fortunate enough to have never lived in a place at the time of a major incident like this one – I had only ever witnessed the aftermath of a tragedy on TV or in print. It always felt like I had a bit of emotional distance from these events, no matter how horrific they were. But this time was so bitterly different. When the place you call home is attacked, it becomes personal. The 22 who died represented all of us: music lovers, parents, excited children, teenage sweethearts. Some were from Manchester, some had travelled here especially for the gig. One was a beautiful little 8 year old girl. When we began to learn these details, it was gut wrenching. And, in spite of all the brave and defiant hashtags that spilled out instantly, and all the displays of unity and northern strength, the horror of it all felt – and still feels – achingly raw. And although I know we are not supposed to say it, some of us are really scared now – and we can no longer just brush it off as conspiracy theory geeky paranoia.
All horrific events upset me, no matter what part of the world they happen. But when something happens in the city you live in, I now know that the emotions are more complex and far harder to cope with than an event in a different country. The Manchester attack happened in a place where we have all been at some time. The injured were treated in hospitals where we have all been to, where we had our children. We all know someone who was at the gig on the night, or a medical professional who is treating the survivors, or a police officer who has barely stopped working in the last fortnight. Manchester is a uniquely connected city (which is always referred to as ‘town’, as in, ‘Are you going into town?’) so the grief is shared. Everyone is still feeling the pain, and some of us really don’t feel strong at the moment.
The world we are all living in right now is not the future I had looked forward to. No one talks about it, but the birdsong has been replaced by the sounds of blazing sirens all day and all night. This is not the life we want for our children and I do not want to be having to try and explain to a 6 year-old about ‘bad things’ that have happened in her home town. I hide my tears and I conceal my fear from them but I’d rather there be no fear or tears in the first place.
My focus is still fixed firmly on our move to Scotland, but now we also have Thursday’s General Election to ‘look forward’ to. I am wishing with every fibre of my being that we get the change that we all so desperately need. Our country can’t continue in it’s current state. Vote Labour to give us a future to look forward to again. A Tory vote will lead us into war, of this I have no doubt.
Please don’t let another city suffer like we are.