Friday, July 17, 2009
horror and disbelief in Montreal
Even the waiters could tell the couple were very much in love. They were friendly with the staff, but they really had eyes only for each other. It had been her 33rd birthday last Monday, and they had reserved a table at this Japanese Sushi Bar to celebrate (last night - Thursday). The restaurant was in the atrium of a hotel in mid Montreal (Peel St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd., if you know Montreal), an area replete with high-end hotels, boutiques and restaurants. Happily immersed in each other one minute - and the next - a concrete slab from 17 stories above crashes through the glass atrium ceiling landing directly on the 33 year old woman, killing her instantly. Staff and other diners, were not sure if a bomb had gone off, but it sounded like an explosion. They ran to the back of the restaurant and were paralyzed with fear. Only the young husband's cries, of "My wife! My wife! Stay with me!", brought the people in the restaurant out of their stunned paralysis and to the aid of the husband lying beside his wife on the floor. All I will describe of the rest of the scene is that it was evident the woman was dead - and the man had lost some fingers on one hand. Either he was touching her arm or her hand at the time of the accident, or he reached out to try and pull her out of harm's way . . . . I can only try to imagine the agony he must have experienced. He was taken away by ambulance, striken - looking to the spot where his wife lay dead pinned under a slab of concrete. (Since writing this post this morning, it has been reported that the couple had originally sat at another table in the restaurant, but had seen the empty table by the window and asked to move. Sadly, they moved to the fated spot.)
The immensity, horror and sadness of such a random, freak accident have Montrealers in a stunned state of sympathy and disbelief today. Everyone's heart goes out to this young man now in the Montreal General Hospital - and, of course, to their families. (This man and any witnesses in the area would be prime candidates for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy in a few weeks or months from now. I mention this because EMDR was the subject of my last post.)
This tragedy has cast a pall over our city and certainly over my mind. I think I felt rattled about it because I have children that age. In fact, my two daughters were meeting at a restaurant in Montreal last night . . . and it could just as easily have been them. On the flip side of the coin, this kind of tragedy pushes me to treasure every moment, every connection, every breath I have today, knowing that in the blink of an eye everything can change.
I will hold that young man in my heart, praying that his friends and family love and support him through difficult days ahead of physical and emotional healing.
Again, we try to comprehend the fragility of life. The random events that kill humans and their dreams. Sometimes it really does feel like one big cosmic joke. We have hopes and dreams, we make plans, we create a life, we create children, we try to do good . . . and still . . . we find ourselves ever at the mercy of an unmerciful, capricious turn of events. And still . . . we go on . . . doing our best to create a meaningful life . . . soaking up the moments of joy, love and beauty offered to us . . . . what else can we do? As Seneca said, "Sometimes even to live is an act of courage".