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This Sunday, 5 October is the 15th anniversary of the Paddington train crash.
For a lot of us survivors every anniversary is poignant and this has not lessened with the passing of the years.
When we first all met in 2000, at the inaugural meeting of the Paddington Survivors Group, we were much the same though the memories then were still fresh in our minds, the pain of what had happened still raw. There were 81 of us and through our enforced shared experience we felt and struggled with the same emotions. There was no need to put any of what we felt into elaborate, explanatory language. 'The smell', was enough for all of us to remember the stench, 'the heat' was enough for us all to feel and see the fireball again. We were bound to each other in some unsought, unwanted exclusive club.
In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity of speaking and meeting several of my fellow survivors. Some of them I have not seen for a number of years, others have become close friends whom I see frequently. What we all still share are the same feelings of melancholy and trepidation in the days leading up to the fifth. The sadness and memories from the day seem to reassert themselves and there is nothing we can do to stop them.
We all deal with the actual anniversary date in different ways, some are quiet, some retrospective, some concentrate on family, some try to make the day celebratory. There is no right or wrong way of marking the day and once it has passed I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief that it is over for another year.
This year, as it is the 15th, some of us are gathering for lunch in a pretty country pub in the Cotswolds. I know that the minute we are in the same room together the invisible mesh that binds us through our shared experience all those years ago, will strengthen and reunite us again.
An unconnected person said to me recently "It will be nice when the 5 October passes without you even noticing". There was a tacit assumption that after so many years we should be able to consign the crash to forgetfulness and oblivion. This is just not going to happen as we are left, on all sort of fundamental levels, with constant reminders of it every day. Indeed, some of the legacy of the crash we have managed to turn into extremely positive things, so why would we want to forget. We are part of it and it is part of us.
Forget - never. Love and appreciate life - forever.
Pam's book 'From Behind the Mask' tells the inspiring true story of Pam's experience before, during and since the Paddington train crash. Get your author signed hardback copy or download the eBook now from Pam's website: www.pamwarren.co.uk.
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