Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Old thoughts, from November

[This was written the week after the Paris terrorist attacks)

We happened to be at the airport Friday night. We walked by a group of people, congregated under a television, watching the screen intently. I noticed that seated across from the TV, also watching intently, was a Canadian soldier. Dressed in his fatigues. Watching.

Before I looked at the screen I had that awful, sick feeling that since 9/11 I've had too often. The pit in the bottom of my stomach convulses. The sudden, intense worry.

I could see the ticker rolling across the bottom, I could see shadowy video of police. The screen changed to a shot of a soccer stadium, packed with people and I pushed Stella ahead, don't look, I said fiercely. And even though I had only caught a glimpse I knew something awful had happened, something terrible, again, and tears welled up in my eyes and my face was hot. I choked it back down, no point in crying in an airport, making Stella afraid. More afraid, I guess. She's already afraid. They practice lockdowns in her school. She handed the kindergartens out the bus window. She reads the news. My four year old was playing with a friend and I heard them recently, deciding what to play. Let's play lockdown, one said to the other. Sure, they agreed. Four year old explained later, lockdown means if you are in the bathroom there is a stranger danger in the school and you do not wash your hands. That was shocking to her, the not washing hands. She previously couldn't imagine a world where you wouldn't wash your hands after going to the bathroom.

We were at the airport, where an Air France flight departed later, after spending a few days in Toronto. And before this even happened, I had wondered. Am I crazy, taking my daughter to a big city on Remembrance Day? Is that like, asking for something? We went to a basketball game, and they had a ceremony honouring some World War II soldiers and I thought, here, this is where they would attack, here. Now. But we stayed, and enjoyed, and lived, and I was shivering with a level of gratitude for that. And a sense of unknown that I'm not sure has permeated our world, our safe, war free world, for many many years, was present. And to be honest, I'm not sure that low level vibration of fear has exactly left.*

*I can state now, 4 months later, that it has not.

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