Brave No More

It’s St Patrick’s Day and usually I would be thinking of Ireland and my pals there but the only thing on my mind today, again, is New Zealand and the terrible events of the past week.

I was born in England and I live in Canada now…but I spent 45 years of my life in New Zealand and identify as a Kiwi. I am proud of that heritage.

On Thursday night I saw the news via a post from Gracie, my niece, and had all the same shocked reaction as everyone. No need to describe the disbelief, fear and panic I felt – we ALL did.

Inadvertently one of the news feeds I opened auto-played a clip of the live-stream and I was paralyzed – I went into a full body dither. I was literally flailing round my computer screen with my mouse trying to turn the fucking thing off – to get rid of the vile scourge that was on my screen – like some awful Rambo movie, but it was real and it was in my homeland.

When I went to bed, the death toll was at 20. Unbelievable.

When I woke up and saw “49 confirmed dead and 20 injured”. I was hysterical. It was beyond comprehension and it took me back to Humboldt and the shock we all felt when we heard that inconceivable, tragic “number”. It was 911 again.

Oh. My. Word. Jacinda! How that amazing woman held it together is testament to her incredible depth and strength of character. I noticed she was moving from side to side in an almost jerky fashion and I knew how that was her way of “breathing” and grounding herself as she delivered the awful, official news; the police and hospital updates; the security information all seamlessly woven with a message of empathy for those affected, support and admiration for the first responders and solidarity for her people. She was incredible. “This is not us”. “We utterly reject you”. The words she spoke that night are now permanently etched in our minds, and are now part of our history. What a dreadful position she was placed in and what a phenomenal job she did. The pictures of her comforting Muslims at mosque are so sincere and so moving. She is the real deal.

My heart goes out to the first responders. I said to Jim “imagine being in the emergency ward of the hospitals in Christchurch – how would you ever be able to move on from seeing that nightmare”? I cannot even imagine. I am so sorry.

The “tyranny of distance” has never felt more acute, and I know that all of us who are living away feel it more keenly than ever before. We grieve with you. We grieve for you and it is so hard not being there. How could that happen THERE? We are the peace-seekers. We don’t allow nukes. We’re a safe haven down at the end of the world and this is a total violation.

I have been touched by the people who have reached out to say how upset they are and how they’re thinking of us Kiwis – and it means a lot to me.

Terrorists want us to all be afraid. They’ve targeted men, women and children in shopping malls, concerts, casinos, schools, offices, churches, synagogues and mosques.

Terrorists want us to never feel safe, anywhere.

Yesterday I was on my way to the spring clean-up at Gwynne Vaughan Park – and it was a beautiful morning. I stopped for a Timmies coffee and was in a line of about 4 cars.

In the other entrance to the drive-in there was an old red Dodge pickup truck, stopped smack in the middle of the driveway and there were 2 guys in the front seat. Mid-thirties, early forties, unshaven with lots of tats. The driver got out of his truck and went to the back door and was getting something out. My blood froze. I was convinced they were going to emerge with guns and shoot us all.

What actually happened was the guy got back into his truck and they drove off.

So, either they saw me notice them and did a runner and I saved all of our lives, or they were completely innocent fellows who just needed something out of the back seat of their truck.

I realized that I am terrified. I realized that I have been for awhile.

I don’t feel safe in the street here. I feel afraid going to the supermarket at night because of the crazies who hang out in the car parks.

Recently, in broad daylight, on my way to a meeting, I had to sit in my car and wait until a deranged psycho stopped whacking everything in sight with his skateboard. It’s all craziness.

I know that this is entirely wrong and that it is letting “them” win and that we shouldn’t be afraid because it is what they want. We are told to go about our daily business and to carry on and not show them we are afraid.

One of the words I would have used to describe myself in the past was “brave”. No more.

Arohanui

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