Waiting For My Daughters...

24/05/2017 12:06

I have lost count of the number of times I have been waiting outside some music venue or another waiting for a concert to end and for either one or both of my daughters to come out. The O2, Shepherds Bush, North Finchley, Wembley, Twickenham, Hammersmith, the list goes on.

With the odd exception, they've usually come out absolutely full of themselves and bubbling over with stories of how close they got to whoever the star was.

With the elder daughter, it was usually Ed Sheeran. With the younger, it was either Justin Bieber or The Janoskians. The latter memorable as their name spells out - Just Another Name Of Silly Kids In Another Nation.

The journey home would be full of viewing the videos they'd shot of their stars, usually drowned out by the girls' screaming with joy! Then they'd be online looking at the videos others had shot. How many times and from how many angles do you need to see the very same bit of footage?

But, every time they did come out!

No matter how frustrated I may have been at how long they'd hung around the stage door trying to get yet one more glimpse of their stars I was always pleased to get them safely in the car and set for the journey home.

I always preferred to take and pick up, no matter how far, so they did not have to travel back late on public transport. Usually, they'd be asleep by about halfway home so it would be a very quiet journey after a while!

But, all that has changed now. With the events at the Manchester Arena, both girls are now scared of going to a concert.

And they would have been going to see Ariana Grande in a couple of days' time at the O2 in London.

Now the edge has been taken off such a treasured part of their teenage lives.

A change has taken place that can never be undone.

The youngest had friends at the Manchester show, all, fortunately, OK, so she has lived through the experience third hand. She has seen and read how scared her friends were and has no desire to experience that herself.

She's experienced panic attacks at venues where standing-room-only meant getting squashed at the front and had to come out early because it was all too much. But those experiences are part of growing up and soon forgotten about.

By the next time her singer or band is next in the country the past issues are forgotten about, they are minor encounters after all. They are not life threatening. They are not the stuff of nightmares.

As a parent experienced in standing outside waiting, having pre-agreed landmarks so the girls would find me, I was horrified to watch the events unfold on Twitter.

Parents caught up in the bomb. Kids caught up in the bomb, people waiting outside not knowing what had happened and not knowing where their kids or partners were.

Kids having to come out of strange exits and not knowing where they were or what they were running from, or even if they were running in the right direction!

Phones dropped in the melee, phones that are our almost permanent lifeline these days.

And just living through this remotely on social media still set my heart racing, still brought tears to my eyes, thinking how upset my girls would have been and how it must have been the same for all the girls there on the night.

That night will live on in my mind for a long time.

That night will live on in my daughters' minds for a long time.

It has, probably permanently, taken the edge off the celebratory birthday or Christmas present tickets to see their favourites perform at some concert or other...

It has set something free in the deepest darkest corners of the mind that will haunt forever.

But we are the lucky ones!

We did not have to live through it at first hand.

We did not have to suffer the awful injuries some must have.

We have not had to suffer the loss of a loved one in the way that so many have.

But, we do still feel the pain.

We do still hold the memory deep in our minds.

One thing that struck me seeing the pictures of people leaving the event was that almost without exception people were either holding hands or hugging. At that moment of fear, we all need to know there is someone else there for us.

And that holding of hands and hugging is a strong sign that we will not be defeated. We will overcome whatever is thrown at us. We will stand up and be strong in the knowledge that there are others there to support us.

We must never forget that.

We must always strive to help and support one another through whatever it is that is thrown at us.

With support and help, we can overcome almost anything.

We just have to dig deep and get on and do it!

My heart goes out to all those that have been affected by this awful event and to the wonderful people that cared for others on the night.

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