I don’t really know what I want to say. Yesterday, the city I grew up in, the city I moved back to with my husband and chose to raise our daughter in, the city that I love, was attacked. It sounds really dramatic, but there isn’t really any other way to say it. A gunman shot a soldier standing on guard at the War Memorial, and then stormed into Parliament where a gunfight ensued. The gunman was shot dead. Others were injured. There were reports of additional shooters, but today (the next day) the reports are now saying that he was acting alone.
It was one of those days that you just won’t forget. As soon as it happened, my first thought was the safety of my daughter. I was texting with my daycare provider to make sure they were at her house, and staying put. Then there was a period of about 25 minutes where I couldn’t get a hold of my husband Dan. He works for the Federal Government in downtown Ottawa – just down the road from Parliament. I felt like I was going to throw up. Once I got a text back from him, and knew he was safe, albeit on lockdown, I felt like I was able to breathe again. Reports of multiple gunmen roaming around downtown Ottawa for the next few hours did not do anything to calm my nerves. It wasn’t until I had my daughter Maya tucked away in her crib and my husband walk through the door (finally being let out of his building 9 hours later) that the tears I had been choking back all day just let loose.
What I really can’t stop thinking about is the soldier yesterday who was shot dead – Nathan Cirillo. This lovely looking young guy who was just doing something honourable. Something that Dan might have done in the past (Dan is also a Reservist). Makes me feel absolutely sick to my stomach and filled with sadness. I hope his family and friends know that Canadians across the country are thinking of him and them today, and that we will not forget his bravery.
I was also reminded yesterday of heroes. People who put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. Whether it’s the Ottawa Police, RCMP, Military, security guards, and civilians who step up to help in a moment of panic and fear, I am in awe and so thankful for these people. I know that my instinct yesterday was just to get my loved ones far away – not to do anything brave.
I want to say that I woke up today and felt like I was in the same peaceful city and country that I was the day before. I didn’t. I’m certainly not saying that I plan on changing the way I live my life (that is the intention behind these kinds of events, after all), but there is a certain pit-in-my-stomach anxiety that wasn’t there two days ago. I’m sure it will pass over time, but I feel sad about it. Do I fear anything? Yes, but it’s not another shooter. It’s that we, as a society, become angry, fearful, aggressive, and further stigmatize people from certain religions or parts of the world.
Let’s give each other some extra hugs today, okay?