I confess… that when I’m upset, I write. And the urge to write this week has been very strong. However, I’ve yet to find time to sit down and really let my thoughts and feelings flow with pen and paper, or by keyboard, so for today, it will be in quick Friday confession format.
I confess… that after sitting glued to my computer a week ago Wednesday, praying for my sister’s friend’s safety and searching social media and news websites for updates as we waited for word following the avalanche and blizzards in Nepal, I didn’t think I’d be doing it all over again so soon. One week to the day. Our country’s capital under siege, a gunman on the loose, a soldier shot at the War Memorial, the halls of our Parliament building echoing with gunfire, the downtown core under lockdown… It was surreal. It was terrifying.
I confess… that of course my first thoughts were of my sister and brother, and many of my good friends and relatives, who work in the downtown sector of Ottawa. I felt lucky that I work in the country, removed from the chaos and fear that gripped the city that day, yet still I couldn’t stop worrying about all of them, and hoping they were all okay. Thankfully, they were.
I confess… that I kept thinking of the beautiful city streets of Ottawa, and the lively activity on Parliament Hill. I used to work downtown (what feels like a lifetime ago), but I’ve strolled those very streets many times. I used to catch my bus in front of Parliament Hill. I know my family and friends are in the area on a daily basis. It makes me shudder to think of how close they all were to it.
I confess… that at a time like this, the Mr. Rogers quote about how in scary times, we should look for the people who are helping, resonates with me. It brings me comfort; it brings me pride. I think of the first responders – the people who ran towards the sound of gunfire instead of away from it, the people who put themselves in the line of danger to try and save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo after he’d been shot, to the Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who eventually took the gunman down in outside the Library of the Parliament buildings, all of the police, RCMP, and emergency workers who were trained and ready for a dreadful day just like this. For them, I give thanks.
I confess… that I still can’t believe this has happened in our country. I know I should have expected we couldn’t be shielded from it forever, but to have two members of our military killed in one week in two separate acts of terrorism – one on Monday, when Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was hit and killed by a car in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, and then Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was shot on Wednesday – both acts committed by Canadian-born radicals – it still sends shivers down my spine. Not here… this can’t be happening here…
I confess… that I try not to pay much attention to scary stuff in the news. Ebola, wars in other countries… I tend to stick my head in the sand. They trouble me too much to allow myself to be consumed by them. And to be very truthful, I really hadn’t paid much attention to the story of the warrant officer being killed in the parking lot in Quebec on Monday. But when tragedy strikes in your own back yard, there is no running and hiding.
I confess… that with each photo I see of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, tears prickle my eyes, and I can’t believe the sense of loss I feel over a man I didn’t even know. In the pictures, I can tell he was a happy guy, always smiling, often pictured with his dogs, enjoying the outdoors, and in uniform. A 24-year-old father. Handsome as all get out. An army reservist who was standing as a ceremonial guard at one of our nation’s most sacred monuments. His weapon not even loaded. His death so senseless. It breaks my heart.
I confess… that on a day when sports did not matter in the least – as was evidenced by the NHL’s postponement of the Sens/Leafs game that night – oddly, it was several sports writers who, for me, best captured how I was feeling. TSN’s James Duthie’s thoughts are here, and Bob McKenzie’s here – both poignant, heartfelt, stirring.
I confess… that I thought the Pittsburgh Penguins’ pre-game ceremony on Wednesday night was the definition of class. Normally, the Canadian national anthem is only sung before hockey games in which a Canadian team is playing, but that night, with no neighbours north of the border in their barn, they sang it loud and proud, in an act of solidarity and support. I can’t tell you how much that meant to us.
I confess… that I’m wearing my poppy early this year. I normally don’t put one on until after Halloween, but in the wake of this tragedy, and in honour of our fallen soldiers Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo, I am wearing it now. The poppy has always been important to me, but it means so much more to me now. I’m wearing it for them.
I confess… that there’s so much more to say. So many more thoughts that I haven’t yet expressed. But as I enter a fun weekend, with many plans made with friends and family, I know that the events of this past week will never be far from my thoughts. I know it will continue to be discussed. Our country changed on Wednesday, but in the end, I know this will unite us and make us even stronger.
I’ve always been a proud Canadian. This week has only made me feel that even more deeply.