It’s a done deal. Contracts have been exchanged. After weeks, no months, of uncertainty, stress and worry we will finally be moving to the Northwest on 20th June. So did we go out and celebrate, get outrageously drunk and dance on tables before hanging out in the local kebab shop and stuffing our faces with a greasy doner kebab?
Nope, we sat on our sofa with a glass of cider, united in stunned silence about what we have decided to do. Suddenly it was very real. Very real. There was the odd comment about the new house, or our lack of furniture, the upheaval for the cats and dogs, and of course I shed a tear about going so far away from Zoe. Then we went to bed.
I have woken up this morning to the sound of birdsong in my huge neglected garden. There are planes taking off from Stansted, a sound I have lived with for 51 of my 58 years! I left Nigel snoring gently in bed, fed the dogs and sat on the patio for a wee while. It’s warm already, and my view is beautiful. For a moment I felt incredibly sad. I know that in the next 25 days, for that is all that is left, I will have many of these moments, and I am sure there will be some once I am relocated. There are bound to be times when I miss what I had before. And that is ok. That is what life is about. Regret and “what ifs” are part of life’s rich pattern. But I think they will easily be overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation.
This time last week 22 people were excited and full of anticipation, looking forward to the weekend being over and a trip to a live concert. I bet they were guilty of wanting the time to go quicker, wishing and wanting it to be Monday so that they could go to the Manchester Arena to see a beautiful and talented young woman strut her stuff and sing her heart out on stage. We all know what happened next.
I am sure that in all of us there is a little voice saying don’t go to events. Don’t go to busy cities. Stay home, gather your friends and family close. It even crossed my mind that we might be “safer” in Morecambe. What tosh. It is natural to feel that way. But isn’t that what these murderers want? I do not even want to call them terrorists. They do not deserve their own noun.
This threat is not a new one. I worked in London in the late 70s when the IRA were doing their thing. We survived and went about our business as normal. I remember walking past the Old Bailey with windows blown out and debris in the street. We saw policemen with guns on the streets for the first time in my memory. We were angry but determined. Determined that we would continue to live our lives and carry on.
The IRA targeted Manchester before and the city rose up from the ashes with a new sense of community and so much strength. When I visited last year, it was one of the friendliest places I have ever been.
Life is dangerous. There is so much in the world that can cause us harm. Every time I get into my metal box and go out on the road with thousands of other people in their metal boxes I take a risk. I have witnessed so much aggression on the roads this week. It’s scary. But we carry on. We hug our children and our partners a little closer, maybe we call our friends to make sure they are ok. We smile in the sunshine and complain about the heat. We get ready for a new adventure 250 miles away. We go on living. And that is the best defence. The best way to show these murderers that we cannot be defeated.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by Monday’s attack. The families that will never be the same. The people who witnessed the horrific carnage and will never forget. The heroes that appear every time there is such a crisis, who care for the injured and give comfort to the dying.
We owe it to them to continue living our lives, caring for people in the community, whatever their colour, race, creed, religion. Everybody. Live well, live better. That is how we will win.
I thought long and hard about writing about this event. There are millions of words out there and I am sure that like me you have read too many of them. My heart aches and I have cried many times. I was sitting in my tin box at 11am on Thursday when the minute’s silence was held. I was driving through a small town in the sunshine and no-one in the street seemed aware. I sat at the traffic lights with tears streaming down my face and remembered those 22 lives. But this morning in the garden in that same sunshine I thought about life and how awesome it is. Embrace it. Live your life with pride and determination. Be kind. Treat people with respect. Share love. Love life. It’s the only way.
Love IS the answer!