I am having trouble sleeping. Not only because of the summer storm raging outside the bedroom window, but also because of many different thoughts that have been crossing my mind each time I close my eyes.
One being that this time last week, you were all most probably tucked up in your beds too. Safe and sound. Those of you who attended the concert must have been so excited that tomorrow was THE day! Maybe you got an early night so that the next morning would come quicker. Maybe you were listening to Ariana Grande as you prepared for slumber. Those of you who were picking your children up had probably messaged your companion about times and places to meet. Gathered up a plan of action in mind. Got petrol. Booked a train ticket. Packed a bag.
Sundays are family days. Days of rest. Days of enjoying some me time or catching up on little bits and bobs like chores around the house. Sunday roasts and walking the dogs. Browsing round shops or watching boxsets on Netflix.
The sheer tragedy of Monday then being your last day. So many lasts. Last shower. Last getting dressed. Last time with the cat on the lap. Last pat on the dog’s head. Last time saying goodbye. Nowadays, we have the haunting insight of a last phone call, text, whatsapp and snapshot on social media. Last selfies. Last tag for a friend and last hash tag and location.
Morbid as it seems, I can’t help but wonder what other lasts you had. What last thought or feeling or view was yours as your life was taken away and your lights so unfairly turned out. Did you see him? Did you notice what he was up to and in a split second feel fear? Most important to me is did you feel pain? I hope you didn’t. The idea of your suffering makes me weep. I don’t want to dwell on such details, they are most definitely superfluous to some. But for me, as my frightened mind and aching heart are desperately trying to make sense out of why someone feels they have the right to cause so much pain and wreak so much hatred on the world… these details are the way my soul is trying to make sense of it all. To piece this horrendous jigsaw together so it may give some clue to help see the sense in such a frustratingly senseless situation. And also, to feel closer to you as, by now, we are not strangers. I know your names. Your ages. Your home towns and professions. I have seen your Instagrams and Twitter feeds, scrolled your Facebook walls and watched your youtube videos.
I have studied all your pictures. Seen your relatives and friends searching for you with worry and anguish written all over their faces and punctuating their fraught pleas on social media platforms. Your loved ones have since poured out their tributes and the words make my eyes well up and my throat close up with emotion. We all feel it. We all feel the empathy, trying on the shoes of your families and friends in order to try and walk in them to see how it must feel. But it is almost incomprehensible. I say almost, only because the pain of attempting to walk in those shoes is crippling and you know you would be brought to your knees.
Smiling faces. Innocent eyes and warm expressions. Happiness. You all look so incredibly happy and content in your snapshots. That is a small consolation… a bit of relief in all the hurt. But still so bittersweet.
You were here and you were loved. And you still are. To all of your families who are now grieving for you, missing you and embarking on the rest of their life’s journeys, may they find the strength to keep going and only look back at the good times. May they focus on the good in people from that dreadful night. The men and women who ran towards danger to try and help. The businesses who rallied round to provide food and toiletries. The taxi drivers who bought the fearful and the lost back home. The doctors and nurses who fought for you to stay and who put the broken bones and bleeding wounds of the injured back together again.
You are all missed. The storm is still raging and it is a relief. Because if the sky can cry for you, then I feel less indulgent for doing so too. From now on, I shall hold my babies that little more tighter and think twice before I resent the mundane. I promise that I will not be afraid. That I will teach my sons to live for each day and keep the faith in humanity. And I will not hate the man responsible. For only love can drive out hate and I will hold onto that… that is my promise, to all of you. The Angels who fly high and who will be forever in our hearts.