i am honored to call gill hicks a friend, in the real sense of the word.
this is her write up in the MAD for Peace page on facebook, for those of you who are either not on facebook or not on the group.
Today is the 3 July 2011. As I wake to look at my emails and my phone messages I smile – each message this morning is from someone who is either a survivor of a horrific experience, someone who has lost a loved one to the effects of terrorism, a former violent extremist or a paramedic! These are mixed with friends who have been in my life for over 20 years.
Today, 6 years ago would have been 4 days before my life changed forever.
Today, 6 years ago I was happily oblivious to another depth, another dimension where so many people live with conflict, with extreme violence, the outcomes of hatred. My life centred around my own concerns, my family, my friends, work, paying my bills, the worry of ensuring that I was making the right choices – choices that would impact on my future.
Today 6 years ago I would have been painting my toe nails ready for the week ahead, blissfully unaware that within days I would not have legs, or feet or toenails to paint.
On July 7, 2005 I didn’t have a choice when a 19 year old detonated the bomb he was carrying – BUT – every moment since I have had choices – and overwhelmingly those choices for every day during the past 6 years has been to find the most effective ways in which to make a positive difference – to devote my life to humanity – to commit my life’s work to doing all that I can to deter anyone from following a path of violent and destructive extremism.
Would I change the past? My answer would always be, without hesitation, YES. For as much as I value and appreciate all the many riches that I have seen and experienced there is a great part of me that just longs to be carefree, both physically and emotionally – standing to have a shower is now only a memory – finding inner dignity when I crawl across the floor is a daily struggle – and the growing understanding that I will not recover, that my legs will never grow back leaves me, at times, in utter despair.
As I approach the 6th anniversary of that day I can sit here and ponder – to look back on all that has been achieved, both personally and with my new professional devotion. I can look back and marvel at a strength that I didn’t know the magnitude of, I can look back and feel appreciation for all the wonderful souls that surround my life, people that I am honoured to call friends. I can look back and feel grateful for all I have been given – most importantly that I am still ‘Gill’ – that my capacity to love has increased, rather than diminished, that my heart is not filled with hatred or bitterness – that for every tear there has been an even bigger smile.
I can reflect – but wonderfully I can also look forward – with anticipation, curiosity and optimism – I can feel as excited as a small child waiting for Christmas, being filled with the thoughts of endless possibility, for the future is unwritten.
Today I have added to my growing list of friends who believe, as I do, that together we can re shape, encourage and build sustainable peace.
Today, 6 years on, I am connected – I am part of a louder voice that is directing another way, a constructive path away from violence. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1015907–ex-skinhead-former-islamic-radical-open-summit-against-extremism
On Thursday, 6 years to the day – my thoughts will be for all those who lost their lives, for all those families who have lost their loved one – for all the lives that are changed forever – both in London in 2005 and everywhere where people have, and still, suffer.
To know love is the greatest gift of life.