Ariana Grande concert: That could have been my daughter

     Police work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

    Police work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

    That could’ve been my daughter.  It was the first fleeting thought that came to mind when I learned of Monday’s suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

    Grande, a pop singer whose music largely appeals to children and teens, was playing to a packed arena on Monday, and at 10:30 p.m., just as the concert was ending, the bomb went off. At least 22 people were killed—including children as young as 8. Fifty-nine others were injured. Police identified the bomber as 22-year-old Salmed Abedi. ISIS claimed responsibility.

    In the hours that followed, world leaders weighed in on the heinous attack. British Prime Minister Theresa May called it a “cowardly act.” U.S. President Donald Trump called the perpetrators “evil losers.” But as a father, I could only think of my daughter. She went to an Ariana Grande concert once. Thankfully, she came back alive. 

    The year was 2015. My daughter Eve, who was then 13, was enthralled with Ariana Grande and her music. Back then, on cool spring mornings when I drove my daughter to school, Eve insisted on listening to songs like “Almost Is Never Enough.” I remember thinking that Grande sounded like a young Mariah Carey, and I remember being glad that Eve was interested in Grande’s music.

    Grande, after all, sang of love, not shooting and violence. That random thought seems sadly ironic now.

    When Eve got the opportunity to go to one of Grande’s concerts, she was thrilled. The show, part of the Honeymoon Avenue Tour, took place in July 2015 at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. A cousin purchased the tickets for Eve. My wife took our daughter to the concert. It was, by all accounts, a wonderful night.

    Dancers pranced across the stage as Grande belted out pop tunes, much to the delight of her young listeners. My wife remembers loud music, screaming fans, and little girls paying homage to their idol by purchasing cat ears.

    Eve remembers that Grande had a glove with which she seemed to control the music. She remembers that Grande sang several songs while standing on a large chandelier. Before the confetti dropped, marking the end of the concert, Grande paid tribute to her grandfather, who had recently died, Eve said.

    But there’s one memory my daughter did not share. It’s a memory she has always taken for granted.

    She left the concert safely that night. That memory, arguably the most important of them all, is not at the forefront if her mind, even after the terror attack in Manchester.

    Perhaps it should be.

    All of us should better appreciate simple moments of joy: The thrill of seeing our favorite performer, the pleasure of watching a movie in a theater, or the excitement of catching a game in a stadium.

    Those are the moments that terrorists are trying to steal from us. We must not allow them to do so.

    In the face of the terror they’ve brought to our concerts, we must hold our loved ones tighter, live each moment fully, dance a little more freely.

    And no matter what else we do, we must never let the music stop. 

    Listen to Solomon Jones weekdays from 7 to 10 am on WURD Radio

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