We discussed for a while whether we should bring Son, or if we should try to get him to bed at a reasonable time. We decided on the latter. I felt the need to attend, and felt it stronger than Husband, so I left. On my way to the bus I met our neighbour. She doesn’t speak Norwegian and was a little frustrated that she was not able to follow the news in the Norwegian newspapers and on tv. Though giving a good coverage of the event, the international media still covered it differently than the Norwegian media. We talked for a while, three bussed passed us, but I think we both felt better afterwards.
The event had already started in the city centre when I reached the bus stop. After a few minutes a man came and stood next to me. He greeted me with a a barely noticeable nod, and his mouth twitched slightly, which I read as an attempted smile. He carried a bouquet of flowers, and I asked whether the local flower shop had opened due to the events. I knew every flower shop in the city centre was sold out, and didn’t know any of the local shops to sell flowers. He gave me one stem, one stem with 5 small flowers. Clove pinks.
I texted a few friends when on the bus, hoping to be able to locate them once I reached the city centre. They texted back with their locations. I felt my stomach tighten thinking about the large crowd of people gathering. The facebook event had about 9000 attendees. There are still discussions going whether there were accomplices on Friday. One flower broke off. I put it in my hair. I have a need to decorate and make things pretty these days. I want to celebrate life, and love. I thought about the victims. We must live our lives for them too now.
The bus stopped a few blocks away from its usual stop. I got out and started walking. The traffic was a little chaotic. I felt a little nervous crossing the street. My eyes met those of the driver who stopped to let me cross. He smiled at me. I smiled back. I walked on, I met people leaving the city centre. I removed the flower from my hair. It might offend people. Mourners rarely have flowers in their hair. I met people leaving. They all smiled and greeted people they met, me included. I didn’t know any of them. It felt a little odd. I took a deep breath, the smell of the city was different. It smelled of burning torches. My city smelled of burning torches. I turned a corner and saw a parade of people walking in the street. I looked across the small lake and saw that side as well. There was people everywhere. Every fifth person, or thereabout, carried a burning torch. Most people also carried a flower, or an entire bouquet of flowers. I joined in.
People talked. They only spoke with those next to them. The humming sound of voices filled the air. Children were quiet, but some still ran around. One small boy in front of me ran around. Every now and then he would stop and lock eyes with his father. He was not told off and continued. Small children in their trolleys were quiet.
In the first intersection I first got a proper overview of the crowd of people. The sight was overwhelming. A little later I met a friend. We hugged. We talked about the events. Talked about where we were when we first heard. Talked about how we both felt we knew more than we really wanted to know about the terrorist. But also enough to now forget about him and not give him the attention he so desperately wants. We continued around the city centre and ended the walk in front of the cathedral and at the far end of the lake from where I had joined in. People then left their flowers on the entrance of the cathedral, or threw, or gently placed, them in the lake. Candles were lit along the banks. We found a place to sit down where we also had a good view of everything. We then let it sink in. The graveness of the situation. The respect shown among these thousands of individuals. The strength of the survivors who had attended the commemoration. And the love. The incredible amount of love. I felt the tears in my eyes. A lump in my throat. And an immense pride. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined this many to show up. A people who is generally considered cold and excluding were now warm and including.
Police estimates 75-100.000 people turned up – in a city of 120.000 inhabitants.