On the evening of June 3, 2016, four of my closest friends and I sat in a restaurant off Borough Market celebrating a Hen party for the first one of us getting married that summer. We drank wine and reminisced about that time we locked our history teacher in his store cupboard, and the time the bride to be laughed so hard in a café that hot chocolate came down her nose! The times we had late night BBQs on the beach, the time we arrived in Florence and let a random Italian man we’d just met take us in his car to his favourite pizzeria, our sleepovers, our fallouts, our break ups, all these important memories that made us who we were. But more importantly, we made plans. We planned out when the rest of us would inevitably meet “the one” and get married. We planned which country we were going to visit next, we planned where all of us would live and when we would have babies so we could make sure that they would grow up being best friends! We were so full of joy and life and laughter and hope, and we felt pretty invincible (though the wine may have helped with that!). When we’d finished we walked through the then deserted market place. It was dark, and the assortment of smells left behind by the traders earlier in the day still lingered heavily in the air. But we seemed to fill the space with our energy and laughter which seemed to be contagious, as the few passers-by we did see laughed and smiled along with us. We took pictures saying that we would look back on them in a few years and only hope that our futures could turn out half as beautifully and neatly as we’d imagined…
On the evening of June 3, 2017, I’m sure there were people just like us, full of life and hope and plans and laughter, who probably left the same restaurant we did, only to have those hopes and plans quickly torn from their grasp. Thinking of all the horrors that have happened in this year since my visit to Borough Market makes the world seem like a terrible, awful, hopeless place. All over the world, life has been interrupted with destructive acts of violence, killing hundreds and leaving thousands scarred with the memories of the things they saw, heartbroken for the loved ones they lost, unable to escape the constant reliving of those minutes of fear when they thought their lives would end. Not to mention the thousands of refugees this violence has created, who feel they must risk their families lives, making life threatening journeys, rather than staying in their homes where acts of violence like this are a daily occurrence.
But despite all of this, despite the giant boulder of suffering trundled into our lives by these acts of violence, I am always amazed at humanity’s resilience and strength. The stories of hope that come after these events remind us that at these times can be transformative. They can transform us into the best versions of ourselves. People laying down their lives for people they have never met. People opening their homes to offer shelter. Medical staff coming into work in the middle of the night on hearing the news. People raising money to support the families of victims. People from all backgrounds drawing together to work towards the one goal. To bring light to these times of darkness.
The girl who sat in a restaurant in Borough Market on June 3, 2016, full of hope, still holds the same hope for humanity. In these times of devastating loss and sadness, when your heart aches for people you have never met who are going through horrific pain that you can’t even begin to imagine, it is easy to think that this world is nothing but darkness. But when the dust settles and the stories of bravery and hope begin to emerge it becomes clear that Anne Frank was right when she said that “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” We are living in dark days, and as she goes on to say that “ever approaching thunder” may destroy us too, but what are we if we do not have hope? When we see humanity drawing together in the aftermath of these events, the light they bring is much brighter and stronger than any darkness that people have tried to blind them with. We are living in the best and worst of times, constantly feeling on the cusp of impending disaster, but pressing on with hope that the darkness will be overcome. We will draw together in solidarity with those whose lives have been permanently changed by the events of the evening of June 3, 2017. But I have no doubt that very soon Borough Market will once again be filled with groups of people like me and my friends planning, laughing, hoping, and dreaming. That is the extraordinary nature of humanity.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”- Charles Dickens
Author: Sarah Blair
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Bio: Sarah, a 25 year old Northern Irish aspiring writer, writing about lessons learned from the everyday, things I’ve read and seen, finding joy in unexpected places, and the meaning in the ‘meantime’