As also happened last year, my blog has been very quiet during the summer weeks when life has a different rhytm from the rest of the year. As it happened, this summer also became very different from all other summers we have known so far in our lives, so my blog silence became longer than intended as we are trying to grasp what has happened here in Norway, to understand why and how, and also the consequences to individuals and our society.
It is really beyond words, and beyond imagination.
As I wrote in a previous comment, none of our family members were hurt or were directly affected in any way by the terror attacks. Living far away from Oslo makes this less likely, but is no guarantee. The young people at the camp at Utøya came from all over the country, so there are victims from every part of the country, – even as far as Spitzbergen. Nearly everybody knows somebody who was there.
A family friend was in the government building when the bomb exploded, but luckily she got away with only minor injuries. After a few days we also learned that a crew member on my husband’s ship lost his brother, and another victim was the grandson of a former colleauge of mine.
We have some family members who are living in Oslo, and I was very happy to see them log onto Facebook and make comments shortly after the attack. Then we all knew they were unharmed and we did not have to clog the phone systems in order to make sure of their safety. Social media may come in very handy sometimes.
We had both our grandchildren staying with us when this happened. This was a blessing in many ways as the TV was tuned in on the childrens’ channel, so showed only “innocent” stuff whenever it was turned on. We had to act “normal” during the daytime, and wait till after their bed time before watching any news on TV. Thus we avoided an around-the-clock stream of endless repeats of all the horrible stories that were unfolding as the days passed.
Quite by accident, I became aware of the explosion less than 30 minutes after it happened. I logged onto the computer to check on something else, and happened to glance at the NRK news channel. It was just the headline and a couple of sentences, – nobody knew yet if this was a gas explosion or something else. I left the computer on, – sound turned off and the news window hidden behind something else, – and checked back whenever I had a moment during the afternoon and early evening while the children where occupied elsewhere. It was weird and unreal to see the tragedy unfold almost as it happened, and not knowing what this was really about.
It was hard to go to sleep on that first evening, when reports from Utøya were still very uncertain. From what the first survivors who came ashore told the media, it was not difficult to deduce that there had to be more than 10 people killed, which was the official number by the late evening. But the real number that was told on the news the next morning, was unbelievable. I heard it on the radio, and had to go check on the internet as I thought I must have heard wrongly. But I hadn’t, – and even if the numbers were corrected after a day or two, it was still beyond belief.
I guess you all know the facts through the news channels where you live., – or some version of it. I did go and read on some of the international news sites, and must admit that some places made me wonder about the way the news were presented. I also was a bit shocked to come across a talk show where the incident was a topic of mirth, – long before any of the victims were buried. I only hope the laughter I heard was canned, and not for real.
In such situations there are also people who make an impression by the way they act; – like ordinary people who ran into the governemnt building to help people get out, – while there was a fire burning, and nobody knew if there would be more explosions. Also the campers on the mainland across from Utøya who risked their lives going out in small boats to rescue as many as they could of the young people who came swimming across. Professional rescue workers are trained to handle crisis, but still deserve admiration for doing the job they did, I think.
Not least, I admire many of the young survivors from Utøya, who were able to tell their stories to all of us through the media, despite being so traumatized and in shock. However, I am not sure if some of them ought to have been shielded from the media instead, – at least for the first few days. I only hope that the act of telling can benefit their healing.
I will not make many blog posts like this, – I hope this will be the only one. However, I needed to write this before I go on doing ordinary things again. Life must go on, as they say, although it will be some time before I can stop myself entirely from imagining what it is like to be in the midst of an explosion, – what it is like to run and hide from a killer with a gun and know that it is for real and not a movie, – what it is like to have your child call you on the phone and tell you someone is shooting and then talk him or her through the nightmare, – or worse, – have the converstaion suddenly stop. Or what it is like to hear nothing at all, and wait at the shore for somebody who never turns up. And then to deal with all this afterwards and get your life back on track.
Not to depress you totally, I have saved some good news for the end. On Friday July 22nd 2011, a baby girl was born to one of my nephews and his girlfriend. Judging by the photos I have seen so far, she is a beautiful, beautiful little creature. My hopes are that the other incidents on her birthday will spur everyone to make sure we have an even better society for her and others to grow up in.
Filed under: A category of its own which I hope I will never use again | Tagged: Norway, Oslo |