I never read the news. I find it too depressing. But when I woke up yesterday morning there was no way of missing that there had been an attack on Parliament Hill in my nation’s capital.
Throughout the day I kept checking the news for updates. I felt uneasy. Like everyone else, I had so many questions. Above all else, why did this happen?
Pictures and witness accounts were published and the personal story of Nathan Cirillo emerged: father, son, friend. It was too much for my sensitive heart to handle.
At supper we had the radio on, waiting for Prime Minister Harper to address the nation. I looked up from my plate and for a moment the world stopped turning. My five year old son, Sam, was laughing at something his brother had done. It was pure and uninhibited laughter, the sound of complete joy. It was the sound of a boy who has no cares in the world. My darling son, I thought, what does the future hold for you? I pray that you will always be able to find so much joy in your life.
My son, my son, my son.
And the weight of this all hit me.
I excused myself but could barely hide the tears that had started flowing. My thoughts went to the home and heart of Nathan Cirillo’s mother. Losing a child is more agony that any person deserves.
There are certain memories that will never leave us as mothers. The imprint of a baby nestled in our arms. The feel of a tiny hand sliding into ours. A warm kiss from a pair of tiny lips before they dash off to school. Hearing “I love you Mom.” I imagined Nathan’s mother clutching a photo of her son to her heart, weeping and wishing for just one more moment with her baby boy.
No matter how big they grow, our children will always be our babies.
But there isn’t just one mother grieving the loss of her son today, there are two.
Michael Zahaf-Bibeau is the most reviled man in Canada right now. He’s a murderer, some are calling him a terrorist, and that is what he’ll be remembered for. His parents have to live with that.
Did Michael fall into the clutches of an extremist organization that is a threat to every human being on this planet? These religious extremists prey on the weak, they groom the young, they brainwash their followers. We know they have very little value for human life and thousands of young men and women have been sacrificed to further their “Islamic cause.”
Or was Michael an addict, mentally ill, perhaps a schizophrenic with “voices” urging him to do this? I don’t think we know this yet, and maybe it’s a bit of both. We may never know.
He was recruited by evil. Or he chose evil. Or he was VERY sick.
We DO know that Michael wasn’t born evil. Once he was somebody’s baby boy too. Once he was a newborn, nestled in his mother’s arms. Once he was a toddler, sliding his hand into his mother’s as they crossed the street. Once he was a little boy kissing his mother’s cheek before running off to school. Once Michael’s mother had all the same hopes and dreams for her son as we do.
His mother, Susan, has gone public and said she hadn’t seen her son for five years except for a brief meeting last week. She says he was lost, that he didn’t fit in. She also claimed she is not crying for her son, but for the victims of her son’s crime.
I don’t believe it. I think she is clutching his photo to her heart today too, weeping and wishing for just one more moment with her baby boy.
Go ahead and cry for your son, Mama. There’s no shame in it. Mothers across the nation are crying with you.
We do the best we can by our children but we can’t be by their sides forever. We can only pray that the choices they make in life will lead them down path’s of good health and happiness.
A life is a life is a life.
These mothers are in more pain than I could ever imagine. And I grieve for them both today.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.
We are the True North.
We are strong.
We are free.
Note: This post has been edited since it was originally published as new details have emerged questioning the mental health and stability of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.