How an act of terrorism made me realized that love is stronger than hate
Friday, April 7th 2017 - Drottninggatan, Stockholm
It is soon 3:00 pm when I look at my watch, expecting to soon be leaving my work desk for some early weekend shopping in the main street of Stockholm.
I’m so daydreaming about this new face cream that I saw in store few days ago that I don’t notice the single change in the atmosphere down the street until my boss and an associate pass my office door all panicked.
The later just came up from the street where he miraculously escaped the truck rushing on the pedestrian alley. He talks fast, looks everywhere, like someone who’s last glimpse could have been his last.
Our phone in one hand with the first local news webpage and a first look by the window makes us understand what just happened. Everyone’s phone starts ringing and the anxiousness fills the room. My boyfriend sends me an alarming text: “Don’t stay by the windows !!!”, a rumor of shooting has made it to the news.
We gather in the office kitchen and put up a live stream on a computer. Everyone watches with their own fears and expectations. As on every Friday though, the office boss opens a bottle of Cava followed by several ones and we snack forgotten chips.
Few hours pass like this before the rumors of other attacks around the city are refutes and the police advises us to leave the zone.
7:00 pm, we go down the stairs and walk out of the office building. The street usually so lively has now lost all of its sounds and energy.
Only trace of a life who used to be, the dead body of one of the victim covered by a rescuer blanket few meters away.
As we are escorted out of the secured perimeter, I still don’t really feel any fear or any sadness about what just happened. Sure, I haven’t been directly exposed but still. Some consciousness tells me that I should be.
So I picture in my head over and over again the image of that person, that body that I just saw. I try to imagine his life and the dolor of the family, tell myself that it could have been me.
But my whole self doesn’t want to give in and admit that it happened. I’m way too much of a weakling to face it.
I walk to university to meet my boyfriend and we walk together among thousand of others to the only open station. From there we take a bus which takes to the house his brothers just moved in.
And so goes the weekend. Filled with people, a late birthday celebration and Sunday cleaning.
Monday, April 9th 2017 — Drottninggatan, Stockholm
I’m in the city train taking me to T-Centralen. I am not particularly anxious about going back to work this morning. It kind of feels like a regular Monday, until I exit the station hub and walk into what is now an improvised memorial.
The TVs journalists are gathered around the store showcase where the truck ended is route Friday. Around them, groups of people, who all in silence take a moment or take a snapshot of this commemoration. And all these flowers… On the security barriers, on the police cars, on the lions status paving the street.
As I am passing this crowd and walking up Drottninggatan, I now realize.
For a few instants, I become self conscious of the strange facial expression I must have and try to keep a poker face. I don’t feel like being stopped by one of the journalists present there for a comment.
I see everyone looking calm, almost peaceful and seemingly full of love and solidarity. Of course, it is merely an appearance and the fact that a man would choose to rush down the main street of the capital with a truck filled with explosives is no coincidence.
But at that exact moment, in those few meters that separate me from the station to my office and where several people died only a couple days ago, I feel way more feelings than I did when this terror happened. This is when I realized that there is love, that there is hope. And that it is the only way to handle this battle.