Just a thought… Sometimes being strong and moving is all you can do. [author unknown]
Ever since that perfect late summer day of 2001 was shattered by a spate of evil like North America had never seen before, I have wondered. I wondered how Toronto would fare in the aftermath of an attack – domestic or foreign, terrorist or otherwise – and what we, whose job it was to talk with those who suffered in fear and sadness, would say.
Time has taught me this: there are no words to ease the pain. I know this from years of living with it and from running over and over in my head just what words would bring comfort in the aftermath of such a senseless loss as we experienced yesterday on a flawless spring day. I say “we” because Toronto will always own a huge part of my heart and my life.
As I mentioned here yesterday, I know that most of the visitors to this journal are from southern Ontario. I felt the jolt of pain and shock, just as you did, with news of a van on a busy Yonge Street sidewalk taking out pedestrians and people just out doing their business, enjoying such long-awaited blue skies and warmer temperatures. A spring awakening that turned into a nightmare.
When I retweeted Steve Roberts from 680 News with the number of fatalities at nine and another 16 injured (at that time; sadly, the death toll reached 10 last night), a woman tweeted back: “I’m 54 and I’m not sure I want to live in a world like this anymore.”
I responded quickly: “It has always been like this. And the human spirit prevails.”
She thanked me and said she needed to get off social media for a while.
I understand how exhausting it can be: all of the details (not all of them true), the speculation, the useless finger-pointing, the rampant jumping to conclusion. Someone tweeted to me, “This doesn’t happen here.” But, oh, it does: in January of 2017, six people who were worshipping were gunned down in a Quebec City mosque. But we keep going. We don’t let hate win.
Like our sisters and brothers in Paris, London, Quebec City, Nice, New York City – anywhere that a terrifying incident (no matter in whose name) has struck – we keep living our lives. We stop to mourn, to learn the names and stories of those we have lost; we hear their families’ memories and the legacies that have been cut short. And then, as though pulling grace from the flowers sure to be laid to rest on city sidewalks, we strengthen our resolve to keep going. Unlike those bouquets, we will not wilt and blow away. Because the human spirit is indomitable and no amount of evil, no matter how close to home, will prevail.
To you, to people of the city that was our home for so very long, and to those who suffer today and live in fear at the thought of such horror as that visited upon us yesterday by one man with darkness in his heart and utter destruction on his mind, I say this: the pain subsides.
And you, too, will be all right. Toronto will not be the same again, but Toronto will always be strong – made that way by the many different and wonderful threads that we have so long and so carefully woven as one. Be good to one another.
I’ll be back with you tomorrow.