I have three children living in England, two in Brighton and one in Warrington, just outside of Manchester. Can you imagine what I went through when I woke up to hear the news on Tuesday morning (May 23)? My son has three teenage daughters – my grandchildren.
A phone call later my world calmed down again and the immediate fear was removed, but what of all the consequences? How will the children be affected in the long run and not just mine?
My eldest granddaughter had several friends from her school at the concert and she too was an adoring fan of Ariana Grande; however, with three daughters, dad’s pocket hadn’t run to three tickets plus an adult, so they were not present on the night. Thank God none of Grace’s friends were in any way injured or, heaven forbid, worse, but the long-term effects are yet to be calculated.
My daughter-in-law took the girls to the vigil that followed that awful night and felt that it was the right thing for them to do, probably helping in their long-term healing. I have to presume she was right, especially for Grace who at 15 was probably more deeply affected than the twins who will only be 13 next month and are far less grown up.
I can’t imagine coping in this kind of situation. When my children were growing up I had the usual dramas of teenagers to deal with, not forgetting they were brought up here in the Algarve without a pop star in sight. I certainly didn’t have anything more dramatic than ancient motorbike accidents and the first over-imbibing of alcohol and its unpleasant after-effects!
My son, on the other hand, is a professional therapist and travels to many parts of the UK training up teams of voluntary and professional workers, but usually in addiction problems. Nonetheless he was contacted within a couple of days, because of his experience and qualifications, to help set up trauma teams in various locations in and around the Manchester area but will not be dealing with his own children except as a dad.
I think I am not alone in being rather relieved that I was born in a different era when we all knew who the enemy was and could face them – I do remember loud speakers telling us to leave various stores in London, like John Lewis and Selfridges, because they had received a bomb alert from the IRA. We would all file out in boring queues mumbling about how long we would have to wait until they let us back in again.
Nobody is calmer than the Brits in these situations. The foreigners in those days panicked a bit but Londoners were used to it. The big difference with then and now is that the IRA gave warnings – they didn’t set out to blow up defenceless children on a harmless night out seeing their idol!
It would be a joyless world if we gave in to the demands of these terrorists and changed our way of living our lives. Even though I haven’t lived in the UK for many years, I can’t help but feel enormous pride when I see the way that the people of Manchester and many other parts of the UK have shown their solidarity with the families who suffered such terrible losses and injuries that night and since.
We can’t kiss and make it better, but we can uphold them in our thoughts and prayers for the long-term healing that can and will take place, and continue to live our lives like each day is our last, because it may be.
By JENNY GRAINER
Photo: People attend a vigil for those who lost their lives during the Manchester terror attack on May 23.
Photo by: EPA/ANDY RAIN