Dedicated to all martyrs who gave their lives in the Easter Sunday bomb blast on 21st April 2019 – the victims in the hotels and the surviving family members…
He is a father who still misses the warmth, the presence and the love of his three children and wife – he lost them in the bomb attack on their church at Katuwapitiya on Easter Sunday two years ago.
On days when it rains with thunder flashing, he goes to the grave of his daughter and sits there – she used to be frightened of thunder. So he tries to keep her company. Even now.
Then there is the mother who lost her two lovely daughters and her husband in the same church. The memories are what keeps her going – the photos of her two beautiful girls smiling along with their father, echo the deep ache in her heart.
There were others who were on suicide watch in the aftermath of the attacks – they had lost almost everyone in the family and saw no reason to stay on.
Across Katuwapitiya, every family has tales of loved ones dead or incapacitated.
Two years on, the pain is still there, raw yet somehow, contained and comforted by the Master’s touch – healed as only He can, restored somewhat as only He can. It is indeed a process.
From St. Sebastian Church Katuwapitiya to St. Anthony’s in Colombo, Zion Church in Batticaloa, the hotels Shangri-La Colombo, The Kingsbury and The Cinnamon Grand – the death and destruction came unexpected on a day sacred to Christians, almost unbelievable that such a tragedy could happen.
From crowded pews resplendent with worshippers dressed in their Easter finery, to blood soaked body parts in a matter of seconds.
Today, as we remember them, we also remember that this nation grieved and reached out to those who suffered.
From the Buddhist monks who came and cleaned the church premises to the Moslem maulavis who offered their mosques to conduct services to Christians, the true heart of Sri Lanka bled as one.
The first responders, the ambulance crews, the doctors and nurses, medical personnel, armed forces and police officers gave their very best.
Once the dust settled on the burials and the funerals, it was a survivor’s nightmare to resume normal life.
That’s where we all fail – when it comes to doing the everyday little things without the loved ones.
The mother who had to accept that the school shoes her daughters wore, now lying on the rack, were never going to be worn again.
Or the young son who went straight to the graveyard where his father is buried, with his exam results – he kneeled and told his father the results with tears streaming down his face.
The children who must recover at home, shielded and kept from noises and light because parts of their injured brain have been stored in the hospital cell bank so that the cells could grow and be re-grafted later on – their trauma is real, their pain acute.
The bright child who got 99 out of 100 for maths every term and now has to deal with his arm and leg not working properly – his father tearfully says that his son thought the bomber with his heavy pack of bombs, was actually bringing milk rice for Easter celebrations.
It doesn’t stop there.
In some cases, entire families were ushered into the presence of God – their tea mugs, half drunk, still in the sinks that no one was going to wash.
Two years on, the pain is real but so is the knowledge that someday, we shall see them on that beautiful shore.
Hope is the only thing a Christian has.
Hope is the one thing that can keep us going.
Hope helps us to keep doing what we do against all odds.
As we move on, we have one singular focus as a nation, no matter whether the politicalrhetoric may sound hollow – we owe it to the victims and each other that it will not happen again.
That’s the best gift we can give those who are grieving and those who gave their lives.
That’s the best gift we can give the next generation.
May God bless and comfort everyone who suffered in the Easter Sunday attacks on 21st April 2019.
” I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me , though he may die, shall live.”
- John 11:25 – The Holy Bible