I don’t really know how to start this post. I’ve been thinking over it these last few days and I feel like there are some things that I need to address.
Anyone know has been following the news this last week will know that there has been an awful terrorist attack in Manchester, somewhere that I have always held close in my heart. In the past, whenever I saw terrorist attacks or bombings on the news it always felt so far away. Yes, I was angry and heartbroken, but it never had affected me directly in the past. Unfortunately, two of the lives lost on Monday night were those of people who have walked the same streets and hallways that I have. The parents of young Saffie run the chip shop in my town and Georgina Callander was a student at my college, a student I knew and had seen the Friday before, her best friend Sophie is a very dear friend of mine from High School. All of a sudden, it wasn’t far away anymore, it was right there on my doorstep. There is no way I can put all the heart breaking emotions I have felt this week in to words, but I just wanted to reflect on the bittersweet emotions that have come out of this tragic week.
On Tuesday when I woke to the news of the attack, I also woke to news of Manchester opening its doors and arms for the people affected. Any one of my friends who don’t live in the north will have heard me talk about how kind and friendly northerners can be, but on Monday night they showed it. It filled me with hope to think of all the love that was flowing through the city. So many students and young people live in Manchester, and I would like to hope that those people are going to go out into the world and take a little bit of that love with them.
I’ve spoken about wanting to get out of my home time so quite a while. It is unfortunate that it takes an event like this to make me appreciate this town and the people in it. Seeing the way this community has come together to mourn the loss of dear Saffie has given me a new found love. This town is relatively big, but right now it feels like a village, where everyone knows everyone and everyone cares.
On Thursday, some students at college arranged a memorial for Georgina. Her class mates had decorated a tree outside the building with her name and ribbons and balloons in yellow the day before. At lunch time, college students from all departments and courses gathered around the tree and set off 200 yellow balloons in memory of Georgina. College always seems so faceless. There are so many people, from so many places, doing so many different courses. In that moment, it didn’t seem that way. It felt like a very large, very diverse family.
I didn’t know Georgina very well, but from the few times we’d met and the way Sophie would talk about her, I knew she was a bright and bubbly girl with the kindest heart. I decided that to honour her life and carry on her legacy I’m going to make a change. I have spent most of the last two years complaining about how much I hate college and I hate A Levels and I hate life. College is a privilege, A Levels are a privilege, life is a privilege. Even on my worst day, I am still getting to live that day. I have more of an appreciation for the life, friends and experiences I have. Life is too short to not drive five miles to get Pizza Hut when there is about seven other pizza parlours within a mile of your house. Seize the opportunities you are given. Stop and look at the sky and the trees and the flowers every once in a while. Get up and watch the sunrise. Hold your friends close and tell them you love them. Nothing is every permanent. People you think will always be there, aren’t sometimes, and as tragic as it sounds, you have to love them whilst they are.
Georgina had a smile that could be mistaken for the sunshine. Every time the sun comes out, I’m going to look up and thank her for bringing me light. Even when it is cloudy and pouring down with rain, she’s still there behind all the grey. I’d like everyone who reads this to take a piece of her with them wherever they go. Live your life to the fullest for her, doesn’t she deserve that much?
I have challenged myself to ask three simple questions to myself and my friends at the end of the day:
What did you do today that you are proud of?
What happened today that made you happy?
What did you see that gave you hope?
There will always be people that are mean and evil and do terrible things. And there will always be people who are good and kind and do amazing things. I hope that you are the latter.
To all the families and friends affected by the events of Monday night, my heart aches for you and I am sorry for your loss. I hope that I can do yourselves and your loved ones proud by spreading love and positivity in this cruel world. I will never take anything for granted again.
I have never believed in religion, or in God or in Jesus, but I believe in people and I believe in you.
Love always, Georgie xo