The day started like any normal Wednesday: by hitting the snooze button three times to finally drag myself out of bed, prying my kids to wake up, prepping breakfast and school lunches as my coffee brewed. I took my sip of coffee and finally woke up then realized how little time was left. I encouraged my kids in a very "motherly manner" to speed up or they'll be late for school. I had a lunch date with my nephew who was in from out of town and was to meet up with him at ByWard Market before shopping for my daughter's field trip to Gatineau Park.
I went to the doctor's office as scheduled. I checked my phone at 10:28 a.m. and my friend had sent me a text with a link stating a "soldier shot in ottawa at war memorial." I was confused as to what I was reading. I checked in with the husband to see if he was OK after I sent him a link to the news story and he promptly assured me he was.
I was in total disbelief and battled with even acknowledging that violence of this nature can even exist in Ottawa. I tuned in to news talk radio and heard that the shooter had been shot. So the coast is clear, right? I continued to head downtown to meet up with my nephew for lunch. When I picked him up, he told me that the west side of downtown Ottawa had been blocked. Naturally, I searched an alternate route to avoid traffic. As I was slowly taking the scenic route downtown, I learned that the mall was evacuated, the bridges linking to Gatineau were barricaded, the OCTranspo routes have been diverted, Parliament was on lockdown and a potential accomplice was still at large. And I still kept driving towards downtown.
When the radio broadcaster started insisting that everyone stay home, and not head downtown, I pulled into a shopping strip parking lot. I parked my car and focused on the radio and what was going on. I started to absorb what was happening.
I just couldn't wrap my head around the violence and terror happening in Ottawa. At 11:30 a.m., it was reported that the individual was shot and that all the schools in the downtown area are on full lockdown. THAT's when it hit me! I quickly drove back home. Just like that, when the radio mentioned that the schools were on lockdown, I was suddenly snapped into reality.
I got home at noon and checked my email. I got an email from the kids' schools that the schools all across the Ottawa district were under "shelter in place mode." This means that staff and students are carrying on with daily routines within the inside of the school building. Students enjoyed indoor recess and that afternoon dismissal will occur as usual. Phew, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I turned the television on and "Ottawa Under Attack" was everywhere. Messages like "stay away from windows, stay away from roofs, don't come downtown, don't wear your public service uniform" kept being repeated. I couldn't help but wonder what is happening? Canada is not immune to violent terrorism.
At 1:30 p.m., I received a call from my daughter's school informing me that her scheduled field trip for tomorrow will be cancelled until further notice.
Just like that.
I texted my husband asking about his whereabouts. He assured me he's safe but locked down.
I tried to divert my attention away from his reality that was unfolding. I tried watching my favourite soap opera that airs at 2 p.m., but was too numb to even follow the fictitious storyline. I struggled to grasp the reality of the tragedy that was unfolding at Parliament. I stared blankly at the television in disbelief. I tried to keep cool and calm, but my heart was aching.
I went to the bus stop like a mother hen to pick up my kids. I had both my kids with me at 4 p.m. and held them close. We waited anxiously for my husband to come home safe.
My kids told me about their day, on how they had fun spending recess inside. Hats off to the school staff to keep the kids protected under such tense situations. My kids felt something was off today, but didn't know exactly what. We watched the news together and I saw the disbelief in my children's eyes as they saw how the story unfold at Parliament Hill. My 11-year-old asked if it was safe to go back to school. My heart broke into millions of pieces when I simply responded with an honest "I don't know..."
At 6 p.m., my husband came home. Suddenly a load of stress just came off my shoulders. We're together. I can't thank God enough to have my family and my world under one roof. Shortly after his arrival, we received an automated phone call from the school board which I played on speaker to assure my kids that despite the horrific events that happened today, it's a regular school day tomorrow and that the school staff will remain extra vigilant.
I emailed both my children's teachers a simple thank you note for being there for my kids when I couldn't be there to protect them.
As a family, we spoke about today's events, watched the news together for learn about further developments of the tragedy, had dinner and finally watched the press conference by the Prime Minister to feel some kind of closure.
At 8:30 p.m., my kids went to sleep soundly. I can only wish I could bubble wrap my children from all this violence and terrorism.
Confusion, disbelief, denial, numbness, acceptance, thankfulness, uncertainty, reassurance and peace. These are only some of the emotions I felt today.
By Nadia Azizullah, CanadianMomEh
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