On October 22, just a mere few weeks ago, I was working my shift at Starbucks about to head back in from my break, when I got a text from my sister.
“There’s been a shooting in Ottawa, at Parliament Hill,” she told me.
In a shaky quick moment, the innocence of my country’s capital was lost. The Hill that lent itself to giant yoga sessions, and fireworks on Canada Day, and magnificent light shows — one which I saw when I sat on that field in the summer a few years back — suddenly had its innocence snatched away. I was shocked and sad and scared after hearing the news. The Starbucks customers whispered updates to me across hushed tables.
The shooter killed a soldier, they said to me. A young twenty-four-year-old man from my own city.
I stepped on a plane to North Carolina the next day. I flew away from Canada as the country cried the prayer that strings together our national anthem, God keep our land glorious and free.
I think of Ottawa and Ferguson and Rwanda.
I wonder what glorious and free looks like when guns fire, and machetes hack away, and bombs explode, blood spilling down rivers and roads and Canadian war memorials.
Spilling down the wood of a cross.