On Bank Holiday Monday just before 10pm we thought the worst was happening. We truly thought the City of Leeds, we live just a couple of miles from, was being bombed.
I was sat in the lounge about to start writing a blog post, Monkey had finally gone down to sleep (we’d got home very late from a day out) and Mr TH was in the dining room doing some work. As I sat contemplating what to write and Facebook messaging a friend, there was a massive explosion. The windows shook and less than a minute later a second explosion was heard.
To be honest I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but the next thing I clearly remember was standing in the bedroom in the dark, looking out of the window at all of our neighbours also looking out of the windows, trying to figure out what was going on.
I called my mum and the landlines were dead, I was getting a bit hysterical by this point. I finally got through on our mobiles to hear her screaming about being bombed, thinking she had heard military jets and not being able to get in contact with my grandma before the line went dead. I started to lose it a bit more. What had happened?
Thankfully Mr TH took hold of the situation, he said a short prayer, told me to calm down, try calling my mum back and start packing some essentials. If the city was being bombed we might need to get out.
I got hold of my mum who had spoken to my grandma and had calmed down. I was shaking like a leaf and couldn’t find anything on social media, other than people from all over Leeds and Yorkshire saying they had heard two explosions.
Eventually, a Tweet was released stating two quick response fighter jets had been allowed to go supersonic over Leeds as they responded to an Air France flight going off course and losing communication.
While all this was happening, Monkey slept peacefully in her cot.
As I was racing around trying to figure out what was happening and getting a few bits together (turns out I had picked up a night light, pyjama bottoms and a hair brush- ready for anything!) I was desperate to grab her out of her cot and hide her somewhere safe, but I knew letting her sleep and keeping her away from my fear until we knew what was really happening was the best thing for her.
It wasn’t until later that evening when my heart rate returned back to normal and I had managed to stop shaking, that I really thought about what had happened, how we had reacted and what could have happened had it really been the City being bombed.
As I looked into her cot at her sleeping peacefully, I felt so sad that being bombed was the first thought most people had. What kind of world had I brought this little life in to? This happy, smiley girl who has no concept of the fear and terror her parents and grandparents experienced earlier that evening. The little girl who found wonder in everything from a birds feather to a lorry driving by.
It made me wonder what it had been like for my grandma, who as a young girl had experienced World War Two, had heard the air raid sirens and run to the shelters knowing she could emerge into a place destroyed by bombs.
Then I got really angry. Angry at the people that have committed previous attacks and are threatening more. Angry, and frightened, that one day it could happen and we’d be powerless to stop it.
Finally as I got into bed, I started to feel grateful. Grateful that it hadn’t been a terrorist attack, that my husband had kept his cool and been able to think logically while I was losing my head. That I had my family close to hand, and could check they were OK and that the RAF were able to scramble those fighter jets when a perceived risk was near.
It’s a scary world our children are growing up in, but so was my grandparents with the world wars, my parents and my childhood had the risk of the IRA bombings and as I entered adulthood 9/11 happened.
I don’t know how long my little monkey will keep her wondrous, innocent view of the world and whether it will turn into disillusion as so many people do or if she will be able to find the good in everyone and every situation, I hope so.