Two years ago, armed men walked into a shopping mall on a crowded Saturday morning yielding automatic rifles and killing everyone in sight. I held onto my eight month old baby, running, slipping, my heart jumping out of my chest. I hid among the dead for 5 hours. It felt like a lifetime. Experiencing sounds and images I wish I did not. They walked calmly, up and down, among the aisles. Killing everyone they found. Again and again they walked past us. Not seeing me lying, curled up a ball, among the dying. My baby remained silent. We’ll never know how. Logic told me it was the time of final breaths. I was ready. No hate. Yes, incredible palatable fear, but not hate. Fear that moved past fear. Becoming strangely, peacefully accepting. Curled up on the hard, cold floor. I listened to the sounds of death interwoven with the feeling of silence.
Then. There he was. Looking down his barrel, straight at me. Towering. Eyes full of disdain. No one knows why that day of all days, after killing children, pregnant women, and anyone they could find, they told me to stand up. I knew that it would now be my end. They killed the woman lying next to me. They told me to walk. I walked over the dead. I walked out holding my baby. In another part of the mall my friend lay dead. He and sixty seven others never got to leave – many hundreds more still hold the scars from their wounds.
Like so many survivors, I still jump at the sound of a loud noise. I get up from a table and walk straight out of a restaurant if the lights flicker as they did just before the attack that day. Sights, sounds, smells – anything can unexpectedly take me back there. Take me back where I no longer want to go. Billions around the world are survivors. Survivors of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, rape, torture, war, conflict, home and farm invasions, shipwrecks, car and plane crashes, assaults. For so many of us, even though time may begin to heal, there will always be sights, sounds and smells that take us back there.
Instead of fear and hate, I invite you to join me. Join me in turning off the news. In most cases we already know what happened. We’ve heard and seen more than we ever need to know. I invite you to close your eyes, to imagine any image that gives you the feeling of love. Your newborn baby, children laughing, someone or something that you love. I invite you to take that feeling of love and imagine slowly breathing it out across the world. Wrapping our planet in it. Connecting with others who are emanating the same love. Breathing that feeling of love in and out. Again and again. As many times a day as you remember to, as many days as you can. Like a network of bright light connecting around the globe. I believe that together we can change the frequency of people’s thoughts and hearts. If we emanate fear and hatred, we connect with others who do the same, and we bring more and more into that field. If we emanate love, we grow our love network, and it envelops all others.
I shut my computer, my cell phone and ipad. Enough is enough. I close my eyes and emanate love.
P.S. Photograph: After the terrorists let me go, walking out of the supermarket, disorientated and scared, I was fortunate to be found by the heroes of that day (pictured here) who had arrived at the mall and were responsible for saving hundreds of lives that day. They guided me out of the building.
WRITTEN BY MARGIE BRAND