I am at a loss for words. I am lost in words tumbling around my mind like socks turning around and around inside a dryer. They are white, these words I cling to. I surrender. I give up. I give in.
I cannot create peace in a world of hatred. I cannot stop hatred from erupting in a world of intolerance.
On my way to a meeting yesterday, after I wrote my blog, I tune into CBC RAdio in my car and there it was, this breaking news story that would catapult my country into fear, dismay, uncertainty.
“Nothing will ever be the same,” reads one headline this morning. And I am afraid it is true.
Terror has struck home.
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24 year old reservist standing guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Ottawa, our capital, is gunned down in broad daylight by a fellow Canadian. A 32 year old man who allegedly than ran into the Centre Block of Parliament and started firing. A gun battle ensued and he is shot dead.
It is the second day that a member of Canada’s armed forces is killed by reported supporters of ISIL. It is the second act of terror on our soil this week.
And nothing will ever be the same again.
Yet, my day continues on as planned. A presentation for the United Way. A meeting with the Emcee for the fundraiser I am part of planning for the Foundation I work for. It will be tonight.
And in between busy day happenings, my eldest daughter calls to tell me that one of her friends just had a baby and another, who works in the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, has spent the morning lying on the floor of her office.
I am elated about her friend’s baby but have not heard anything further on the news story from this morning. I do not make the connection.
And my daughter becomes upset by my insensitivity. Can I not see how this has changed? Everything. How can I blythely talk about the humorous antics of our Emcee, Bearcat Murray when her friend is terrified for her life and she is concerned about what kind of world has her other friend brought her innocent child into?
And I am reminded of that September day, 13 years ago. That day that changed everything.
I am reminded of hearing the news as I rode the elevator up to my office. How no one was working. Everyone was glued to their computer screens watching the horror unfold on the other side of the continent.
I am reminded of wanting to hold my children safe. Of leaving my office and going to my youngest daughter’s school and taking her out of class for the day. I could not imagine what the future held but I knew that in that moment, I only wanted to hold my daughters close. At the time, my eldest daughter didn’t want to leave her high school classmates. I’m okay mom, she told me when I got to the school to invite her to spend the day with her sister and me. I want to be with my friends right now, she said. We’re talking about it. It’s important.
And so, her sister and I left and enroute home, a girlfriend called in tears. She couldn’t get away from work. Will you go get my son and keep him with you, she asked? Her son is my ‘adopted son’, one of my daughters’ best friends. Of course, I tell her. And suddenly I have my 13 year old daughter and my adopted son and his best friend with me.
We eat pizza. Chatter. I do not turn on the news.
Let’s go to a matinee, I suggest and am horrified and humoured by their choice. I can’t remember the exact film but it was something like Beverly Hills Cop 2. Lots of shoot ’em up, laugh ’em out hijinks that while funny had all too surreal a connection to the events of the day.
I think I am a terrible mother. How could I let these youth see such gratuitous violence on a day when everything was changing, never to be the same again.
And there’s the thing.
Yes, our innocence, our naive belief that terror in the world could not come home to roost was torn apart that day.
But what didn’t change, what can never change, is our capacity as human beings to change it, stop it, create better.
We are creators of war and terror.
We are creators of peace and harmony.
We can do better. We must do better if things are to change for my daughter’s friend’s baby who was born yesterday into a world that is no different than the world was the day before. It is just our understanding of what we are capable of that has changed.
And we are capable of better.
We are capable of peace.
We deserve it. All of us. Every single human being on this planet we share called earth.