The events of what happened in Manchester last week are incomprehensible. This is quite simply, one of those posts I wish I didn’t have to write.
I’ve tried to make sense myself as to what happened and why.
Last Monday, I was up late, feeling really grotty. I think I’d caught a bug and was up, trying to take my mind off it by reading the news, Facebook, Twitter… something to distract my mind away from the messy business of being poorly.
I saw on Facebook a news flash that several bangs had been heard at the Manchester Arena.
I felt more ill than I had the moments before I read that. A friend of mine from High School was there with her young daughter as a birthday treat.
I immediately went to her profile and could see several of her friends had already asked the question: Are you okay?
I added my concerns to her wall also. Skipping back between the headlines that had now reached the BBC News website and Facebook.
Initial reports were saying it was a loud bang caused by a big helium balloon popping, but the more attention I then paid to Twitter, the more I could see that this was not the case.
Eventually, someone on my friends Facebook wrote that she had heard from her. She had taken refuge in a takeaway near the arena and that her Dad was on his way to collect her.
I sighed with relief – thank goodness they were both okay.
I haven’t seen my friend since I was a teenager, but with the magic of social media, you can connect positively with people despite the gulf of time and life direction.
I continued to read the incoming reports – realising with horror that there were countless others who, unlike me, were not able to sigh with relief. Their loved ones were never coming home.
As dawn stretched out across the sky that early Tuesday morning, it became sickeningly clear – a terrorist had detonated a bomb, killing himself and taking 22 men, women and children with him.
I just despaired. As a Mum, all I could think about was the babies – the children (regardless of age) that won’t be coming home. The children left without parents, the parents without children.
I saw the desperate pleas for help in locating missing people, praying that they would be located in a hospital and be okay. I willed there to not be any deaths and that it was all a big mistake.
There was no mistake though.
Going into work was a very solemn affair. Everyone was talking about it; everyone filled with dread and concern. Our buildings all went into lock-down and we had to have our ID clearly displayed at all times.
Suddenly, there were armed Police wandering round, to give us reassurance.
But we all understood it. We all respected these additional measures. We all carried on about our daily lives – because doing anything but was what these hateful people want.
How do you go to a concert and not come home?
This could have easily been me with my older daughter who is 8 years old – the age of the youngest victim. It made my heart hurt thinking about that and even trying to imagine what the loved ones of those killed or injured were going through.
Manchester is a city I have known all my life. I have friends who live and work there and I visited it countless times when I was growing up. It’s always been my second favourite city – behind Liverpool. Growing up in a town that is slap bang in the middle between those cities, it always felt like you had to choose which one you preferred.
As half of my family are from Liverpool, it was obviously going to be a bigger part of me than my neighbour to the east, but I have always loved Manchester.
At work that Tuesday, we had a minutes silence in the main public area. I was pleased and proud to see dozens of people there – of all races, religions, backgrounds – all there in support of those in Manchester.
There was a clear statement – there is no way ISIS and its brainwashed cronies are ever going to break our commitment to live with each other in peace and mutual respect.
Watching the BBC news that day, showed me that this feeling was emulated throughout not just the UK, but the world.
As the week carried on and more revelations were made, one thing was clear – our spirit cannot ever be broken. From Mancunians singing ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ to the national minutes silence to Adam Hills spot on rant on ‘The Last Leg’ (Channel Four) one thing was clear – we will not be broken, we will not be changed or rocked or scared.
My heart and my thoughts go out to everyone involved. I just cannot put into words how sad I feel for those affected by this terrible event – and everyone everywhere affected by the horror of terrorism.
We may not all agree with one another, we may challenge each other’s opinions and way of thinking – but we must always agree on: love not hate, light not darkness, joy not anger, peace not war.
There have been so many examples of human kindness and dignity displayed in the wake of this event that makes me believe so strongly that our basic human decency will always prevail in the face of such extreme hatred.
I wish warmer, brighter days ahead for all of the victims of the Manchester attack and for all people who have been caught up in terror attacks around the world.
But don’t look back in anger, I heard you say.