Sunday 20 October 2019

I can't find the words to express how I feel about the Paris attacks

Justine O'Mahony.
Justine O'Mahony.

By Justine O'Mahony

It's weeks like this that I find it really difficult writing this column. I'm paid to give a lighter take on life, to write tongue in cheek about the everyday minutiae of my very ordinary life, in the hope that it will resonate with some of you.

But how can I talk about going on a diet or giving up the drink and other such trivial and first world matters, when, at the time of going to print, 132 people lie dead and another 99 are in a critical condition after Friday night's massacre in Paris?

I'm not very good at being serious which is why I rarely am. But how can we be anything but serious this week in the wake of such a horrific terrorist attack that claimed the lives of innocent people out on a Friday night. I can't find the words to express how I and millions others must feel-devastated, traumatised, terrified.

We booked flights to Paris earlier this week for after Christmas, so we could bring the kids to see the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee etc.

They've been asking to go for ages. It's a surprise Christmas present for them and I was really looking forward to seeing their faces when they opened the envelope.

Now all I keep thinking is that could have been us sitting in that restaurant in Paris on Friday night, gunned down in cold blood while we were enjoying a family meal with our children.

All the joy and anticipation of sharing, what was supposed to be a special trip for our children has dissipated overnight. Now I'm scared and fearful for our safety. I don't want to go anymore. My favourite city in the world has suddenly become a place of terror, danger and uncertainty.

And I know that's exactly what the perpetrators want-to instill fear into ordinary people trying to go about their everyday business. They have poisoned our lives with their hatred and evil. How can we be anything but mistrustful and suspicious from now on?

Because this wasn't a specific target like Charlie Hebdo was, this was an attack on random people, out to enjoy themselves on a Friday night. People who were slaughtered just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now of course this war will escalate. French President Francois Hollande has vowed to wage merciless war on the Islamic State group which will mean more attacks, more retribution, more deaths of innocent people. We can almost certainly expect a similar attack in the future, the biggest question is-where?

But right now is a time for grief and for mourning. I don't think any of us really want to hear politicians posturing about their stance against terrorism, promising us that it will never happen again.

Because that's the worst part of all. It will.

Wexford People