Sydney can be a gruff, brash, ambitious city – a poster child for the belief that at-all-costs individualism delivers success and recognition.
It’s also a city of impossible beauty that, amid the whining about traffic, the cost of living, property and coffee Sydneysiders are prone to, contains reminders of how blessed we are to be part of such an exquisite circumstance.
And then there was Monday.
And then Tuesday morning brought dread and raw, inarticulate anguish – a sense that something had been stolen that can’t ever truly be explained, for all the promises of our leaders to investigate. Something beyond comprehension. Something beyond words.
Something now explained quietly, in flowers. Flowers that fill a city block and remind us – and two grieving families – that ultimately, we are, to use NSW Premier Mike Baird’s term, “the beating heart of a city”.
And a city with two less beating hearts. Two hearts most of us didn’t know, but now miss: Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, and barrister Katrina Dawson, 38 .
There are no words that quite bring the comfort we all seek. Great poets have tried, religion too. Our leaders seek to reassure us, but it still falls short.
This week, Sydneysiders found a way to say what they needed to and now Martin Place is filled with flowers, notes, poems and tributes. Tokens of love to patch a tear in Sydney’s psyche.
It wasn’t planned. A trickle has become a flood. It’s a generous, personal tribute to a city, its people and two families unexpectedly without the people they love this Christmas.
The Dawsons and Johnsons do not mourn alone.
On Tuesday, a colleague, Alison Rice, summed it up when she said “What a polarising experience it is to witness the best and the worst of humanity at the very same time.”
And amid the worst, Sydney shows it’s the best.
It is the season of light.
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