The normal continues. The dentist, the doctors, the school drop offs, the packing of suitcases for the school holidays. It’s the not normal though, the not normal jumps in front of our faces, stopping us in our tracks.

The first little traveler had an orthodontist appointment this morning. They rang us to say we had to go to a different venue. In amongst everything happening I’d forgotten that our orthodontist is located at Villagio. We chose him because his offices had all of the latest equipment and he is possibly the most gentlest, kindest orthodontist you could imagine. He is the father of small children and understands the irrational fear of a dental mould.

I’ve been having a recurring dream, I’m in the middle of the ocean with the little travelers. We have nothing to hold on to and there is no land in sight. There’s a really distinct moment where I realize I cannot hold all four travelers, and I know they will not be able to tread water on their own for much longer. I try to keep a calm voice, I’m telling them that everything is okay. The youngest traveler is getting tired and keeps pulling me down. I have to decide whether to let go, for the sake of the others. Do I wait and be with them while they all drown? Or do I go first trying to hold them all up? The idea of leaving them in the ocean is enough to wake me up, it’s a feeling of nausea and fear that greets me. It is truly the worst dream I’ve ever experienced.

The orthodontist told the first traveler that he’d seen her on the news, she was by my side at the vigil. She didn’t smile when he mentioned it. He looked at us both and I could see his eyes were tearing up. He went on to tell his story, the alarms, the evacuation – everyone has a story of where they were when it happened. When we got back in the car the first traveler talked about the cameras at the vigil, about how invasive they were. One cameraman from Al Jazeera locked in on our faces, he was maybe a metre away and just sat there for about five minutes or more focussing in. “Why didn’t we push him away Mummy”. I didn’t have an answer. “I think we were all just in shock, it wasn’t about us – we didn’t really understand why they were filming us”.

If I had my time again, I’d ask that cameraman where he was the day before. The day when the fire was happening and we didn’t have any answers. Aren’t news crews usually the first on the scene? Why wasn’t he outside filming then?  Not one local news crew?

I kept asking on twitter “does anyone know if the children are out?” I got different responses and all of them were bad, until finally someone who I knew would have known, told me “it’s not good”.

The normal continues. After the orthodontist the first little traveler and I stopped for a hot chocolate. We talked about the holidays, swimming lessons and math tests. We giggled about Daddy and his terrible “Dad’s jokes”, about sleepovers and something funny the social studies teacher had said. And then she told me “I was crying at the vigil because of the Mummy – she was so sad”.

I explained that this is why we worry so much. This is why we talk about running across the road and learning how to swim and being careful on your bike, because we can’t imagine a life without you or the pain that we would be in if we had to say goodbye.

The normal continues, but it remains to be interrupted by the not normal. The conversations, the reminders, the nightmares and the stories. One foot in front of each other – the normal continues.

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  1. Making me cry again. So beautifully written, I feel like i’m there with you, like we’re friends. I will carry these words with me. Thinking of you xx

  2. You realise just how much of your subconscious shows up in your dreams when you read things like what you’ve been dreaming. I like that your talking to your children about the normal and why mothers worry about their kids, but how sad that a tragedy is what brought about that conversation.

  3. This weekend my family and I drove past Villaggio for the first time since the fire. My eyes filled with tears again…just when I thought I had reached the anger stage. Today I began posting a funny picture on FB that I took this morning, and I couldn’t go through with it. Grief still seems to be swallowing up all other emotions. I’m not ready for normal yet.

    • I know how you are feeling can only offer my good thoughts. It was almost 9 years until I could bring myself to be at the World Trade Center site. Anger, frustration, helplessness … they were all there. You will smile again, positive emotions will come back – it just will take time.

  4. The dream sounds terrifying . Normal is hard to find after what your community has experienced . Thinking of you all.

  5. This post brought back memories and emotions from a day in my hometown almost 11 years ago. On that day parents lost children, children lost parents and everyone lost their innocence. On that day my wife and all of the other teachers in the school knew that they had children in their class who had just lost a parent and did not yet know it. I worried about family and it was a while until we knew they were safe. Not all of my friends were however, nor my son’s nor my daughter’s.

    Normal returned eventually, but it was never the same normal as before that 11th day of September, 2001.

    I can truly empathize with what you and all in Doha are feeling at the moment. The nightmares will abate, and life will find a new normal. But it will never be the same.

  6. Crying. So hard 🙁

    Wish I had something eloquent and lovely and uplifting but all I have are tears.

  7. Don’t know what has happened – I’m ‘away’ -but so sorry. Awful dream. Thinking of you & your family.

  8. So beautifully written . glad to see the little travellers can express their grief as well thinking of u all.

  9. Oh my lovely. You have been in my thoughts constantly. I can only empathise a miniscule amount. Before children a disaster like like this touched me. (A fire, in an underground in 1987.) But that was way way before children. All I can think about now is how having children changes our hearts andn our fear levels.

    Kirsty, I wish you all a whole suitcase of peace for your hearts. xxx

  10. Anonymous says

    i to live with a different nomal….a husband with primary progressive MS. i too look for ways to find peace in my heart

  11. Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are… Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect Tomorrow. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.
    – Mary Jean Iron
    I have tried to live by this quote for many years, when I feel like whinging about a ‘boring’ day etc.
    Beautiful writing from you again.

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