Tuesday, 16 December 2014

On this strange and mournful day

I had been imagining what this morning was going to be like.  That was my first mistake.

Elder daughter returned from Victoria this morning after four stressful months of disappointing job-hunting.  I rose, and checked bus schedules, envisioning a reunion at the airport amongst all the other people happily clasping their relatives to their respective bosoms in pre-holiday rejoicing.

The Resident Fan Boy had a meeting, so I had to wait for younger daughter's lift to arrive before launching myself toward the bus stop.  I caught the bus by the skin of my teeth and congratulating myself, checked my phone, only to discover that elder daughter was already at the airport, having arrived just after eight.  The Resident Fan Boy had informed me she would be landing at about 9 am. I hadn't even made the connection to the Transitway yet.  While my over-tired daughter wept and over-reacted to my texts, thinking I was blaming her for this predicament, we forced a quick decision before I had to make the transfer.  She took a cab home, while I cooled my heels for twenty minutes at Hurdman Station for the returning bus.

I banished rueful thoughts from my head, blasting myself with favourite tunes through my earbuds.  Later, when elder daughter was welcomed and tucked up in her bed, I sat at the computer and dazedly scanned the headlines:  the aftermath of the hostage-taking in Sydney, Australia; a man who had systematically murdered his wife, her sister and her family, her mother, and grandmother and was still on the loose; the grieving parents outside a school in Peshawar, Pakistan where over 130 of their children had been slaughtered.

I thought about my lost scenario of joyful reunion, and about how my daughter had arrived safely, even evading the forecast freezing rain.

 I headed off in the afternoon to fetch younger daughter from her school far across the city.  We are joined by a raucous gang of Muslim students on the return journey every afternoon.  They're just as obnoxious as non-Muslim teenagers talking loudly in an enclosed space -- except they don't swear.  I remembered how they vanished from the bus for the days following the shootings in Ottawa last October; it took a few days for their high spirits to return.  Were they targets of anti-Muslim slurs, I wondered.  Had their parents kept them home? I thought of the #iwillridewithyou campaign in Australia after this café shooting, and of an upsetting article at the BBC website about the backlash against the campaign.

I took younger daughter to her favourite Second Cup and thought some more.  I considered the fact that I had two daughters returning safely home today, and that so many parents and other loved ones will not have that privilege ever again, because those they loved went to school, or stopped in for a coffee.

Then I remembered I was sitting in a coffee shop, and took younger daughter home to see her sister.

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