It's 4.48pm on a Wednesday and I'm in the kitchen preparing tea for the kids and husband. Fish, potatoes, carrots and broccoli, in case you we're wondering, except we call the fish 'white chicken' because it's the only way we can get the three year old to eat it. Whatever works and all that. Except now I'm sat here writing. Why? Because I stopped to look at my phone and then ten minutes later with tears streaming down my face and memories of my childhood flooding back I felt compelled just to write. Something.
You see, not being able to stay off social media for more than 10 minutes I clicked onto Facebook and then the Manchester Evening News live blog, detailing events from the Manchester bombing 20 years on. I was 13 at the time, if I'm honest I don't really remember much about it. Probably because my mum turned off the TV and shielded us from what she could of it. More likely because I was 13, life was all school friends, make up experiments (that failed badly sometimes!) and hormones. Like most kids that age, I imagine, things like that were barely a blink on my radar. Teenagers are invincible right?
But today as I scrolled through the words and images on my screen I felt indescribably sad. I saw the defining images and read the stories of the people behind them. The ones that made the front page of the newspapers and spread around the world. The ones that struck me: a mother running towards her baby, held tight, thankfully safe, in the arms of a security guard and another of an old lady with blood streaming from her head, down her arms. I sobbed, because now as an adult and a mother I can begin to understand the emotion that courses through those pictures. The sheer fear and terror those people must have felt. Yes it was remarkable that nobody died but we must not forget those that were injured, those that were traumatised by being caught up in such events.
I said that my mum always tried to shield us from terrible things in the world. That is why the picture of that lady, terrified for her child, caught me off guard. Because as a mum now, in 2016, I wonder how do I protect my children? How do you protect yours?
It's funny the childhood memories that stick with you. I remember my mum saying that if ever there was a war we'd move to Ireland. Nobody bombs them, she said. She was referring to the Republic and she didn't just randomly choose a country, my Grandparents were Irish. Funnily enough she didn't say this when the IRA bombed Manchester. It was the beginning of the Iraqi war, I think. The details don't really matter, it's the sentiment, she was saying she'd go to the end's of the earth to protect her children. I get that now, now I'm a mother myself.
But in todays world there's no white lorry and tip off call. Today it could be a gunman on a beach, in a nightclub, a suicide bomber in a shopping mall, a hijacker on a plane, something else unimaginable until it happens. The threat is still there but it's changed, we know it's coming, we don't know where it's coming from.
We recently returned from our annual family holiday. I love taking my children away to different places, showing them some of the world, spending time together. But two weeks before we were due to fly Egypt Air flight MS804 disappeared. It just dropped off the radar. Terrorism was the most likely cause they said. It filled me with dread, I had sleepless nights. I contemplated not going. But then I hate flying anyway, I always think I'm going to die, so I decided I was being silly and we went. We had a great time and we came back again. Life has to go on doesn't it? As parents we do our very best to protect our children, from stranger danger and by teaching them to cross the road safely, by having a near heart-attack everytime they put a small object near their mouth, and by making them wear ALL of the flotations aids even in the shallow end of the pool. But aside from that our hearts are walking around outside of our bodies on tiny little legs and arms, with chubby little toes and fingers.
To all the mums and dads who fear for their children, to all the victims past and present and to their loved ones left behind, to all those whose lives have been scarred by acts of senseless violence, I don't know what the right words are but sometimes it's just important to say something.