Wednesday was surreal to me. Living in a capital city, you know that there are obvious targets, but still, this is OTTAWA, my big small town, my safe town, my sleepy town. As I read the reports of what was happening downtown, I felt a momentary fear. It wasn’t that I was afraid that I’d be hurt, or that my family would be; I was afraid that others would be. I thought of friends who work downtown, and wondered what they were going through. It was a long and scary day for many of them.
That fear turned to sadness when I learned that Cpl. Cirillo had died. I cried, for his family and colleagues, for all of those who were hurting because of his senseless murder. He was an honour guard, a ceremonial position that should never have seen any violence. I cried a bit for an innocence lost, even if it was my perception of innocence.
As the day progressed, it became clear that the immediate danger had passed. There was uncertainty, so large parts of the downtown were “locked down”, and many buildings around the city were secured – doors looked so that people could neither enter nor leave. I wanted to go get my children from school, mostly because I was told that I couldn’t, but also because I needed to hold them. Eventually I got to them, but they just wanted to run. So they ran and I talked with some other moms, working through our emotions, relishing the human contact. Processing, a necessary stage. I felt refreshed afterward. No longer the slightest bit afraid, still sad, and more than a little bit angry. This is OTTAWA, who did this man think he was to mess with MY town?
Wednesday night I stumbled on the #MyOttawa hashtag, and it resonated with me. I fell in love with my city through the eyes of others, friends and strangers, those who live close, and those who have never lived here at all. It became apparent to me that an act that was meant to invoke fear and cause divide had failed to do that. Yesterday I watched my city return to business, to normal. There was an unmistakeable calm and quiet resolve here, I felt it as I started my day. This wasn’t going to get us down. Yes, there will be reviews and tweaks, but I don’t think that there will be any large scale changes to life in Ottawa. This will still be the city that I know and love. My Ottawa.