Today, there will be no talk of books, movies or anything of the fictitious variety. It is not likely, but for those of you unaware of the events which transpired yesterday at Parliament Hill, follow this link: Parliament Hill Shooting Timeline
There are very few times in my life when I can recall experiencing a sense of fear so strong that it was physically crippling. I have been living in Ottawa for nearly five years now, and yesterday was the first time within those five years that I honestly feared for my life simply by being in this city. I could barely convince myself to leave the house, the fear was so overwhelming.
When I don’t have anything I urgently need to be at in the morning, I have a tendency of sleeping in through my alarm clock. Yesterday, I had planned on going downtown in the morning to run some errands, but my bad habit manifested itself and I once again slept in, and you know what? I could not be more thankful. It was later in the morning that I got a text message, warning me to stay away from the Parliament Hill area. Of course, having not seen the news yet, I had no idea what he was referring to. I, being the curious journalist I am, immediately turned to the vast information archives of the internet, and at first I could not believe it; a shooting, here, in Ottawa!? It’s not as though violence was unheard of in this city, but gun violence? That was a first for me.
Having grown up in a small farming community, I must confess, my life was relatively uneventful and sheltered. When I first moved to Ottawa, I was terrified that it would be like living in Toronto, where something horrible seems to occur on a daily basis. I simply had little to no experience with living in a big city, and therefore had no ide what to expect. If I had to sum up my 5 years of living in what to me is that ‘big city’, it would be that it felt safe. Admittedly, I have had moments where I felt nervous walking through certain parts of the downtown area, but I never felt like I was in danger. That is, until today. It just goes to show that, no matter where you go, nowhere is immune to the hate, anger and frustration which plagues the minds and hearts of too many people in this world.
Too afraid to set foot outside, yet too nervous to simply sit around, there was only one thing I could do; I prayed. I prayed for the safety of all of my friends living in Ottawa who were trapped in the university during the lockdown. I prayed for those I knew who worked in Parliament, and even those I didn’t know. I prayed for everyone who was in the downtown area at the time, just going about their daily business, just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And of course, I prayed for the soldier who lost his life, and for the family he left behind. I prayed harder than I ever had before, in the hopes that those words would somehow keep everyone safe.
Today is not a day for reading or reviewing fiction novels. Today is a day for each and every one of us to reflect on our lives and how precious they are, to start living those lives to the fullest if we haven’t already, and to remind ourselves that in times of great turmoil, we must show courage in the face of fear.