July 22, Six Months On

I’ve been trying to write this for months now, and wanting to do so for even longer. But today – the sixth-month-anniversary of the horrific acts of July 22, 2011 – seemed like the right time. We all have our individual stories of what we did that dark day, and since I was not there but lost a great friend that day, my experiences pale in comparison to those of survivors and relatives of the people who were so brutally torn away from us. And still, the grief is always there, for ever and no matter our experiences. So what to say on a day like today?

I don’t know. But as a co-writer on the Norwegian blog collective Skrivekollektivet, yet first and foremost as a friend of Tore, I have found my own ways to express my sorrow. Almost more than anything, I have found strength in music. In the first several months after July 22, I found strength in the words of the song Til Ungdommen (literally: To the Youth), and in particular the lines that read “ubygde kraftverker/ukjente stjerner” (literally: “unbuilt powerplants/unknown stars“). These are not even close to being the most powerful lines of the poem, but they carry with them the optimism and unfilfilled promise that was so brutally ended on that day. Also, for those of us who knew and loved Tore Eikeland (1990-2011) (unfortunately his English Wikipedia page seems to have been deleted), it captures his political spirits in several ways. Unfortunately, I have not found an English version that captures the almost hymnal essence of the song in a satisfying way, although the song has taken on an almost official status as the song to rally around in the aftermath of July 22.

But every time I really feel the need to remember the loss of July 22, the need to reconnect with my innermost feelings, the feelings of a time when Norwegians were still united in our determination to fight together against these forces of utfathomable evil, I turn to Jackson Browne’s For A Dancer. More than anything, this song provides me an opportunity to really express the sense of loss that’s still very much there, even though some time has passed. It reminds me of the shortcomings of the old saying that “time heals all wounds.” For one, it is not true, and in a sense it feels like a betrayal to even think that it could be true. But what it does remind me of, is who Tore was; an unrelenting advocate for equality and justice everywhere. Other friends may have other favorites to remember him by, but this is mine:

I don’t remember losing track of you

You were always dancing in and out of view

I must have thought you’d always be around

Always keeping things real by playing the clown

Now you’re nowhere to be found

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2 Responses to July 22, Six Months On

  1. Guy Penn says:

    I’m very sorry about the loss of your friend, Tore Eikeland. You’ve probably already seen the videos or were part of the gathering, but I was very moved by the recent show of support and singing of Pete Seeger’s “My Rainbow Race” (link below), so I wanted to share it with you. I think the gathering compliments the sentiments of your post and the healing power of music and words.

    • queerlefty says:

      Thank you so much for your touching words.

      I was not at the gathering in Oslo, but similar gatherings were arranged all over the country at the time. The gathering in my hometown, Bergen, was much smaller, but the signal from there was the same: We refuse to be divided by hatred and extremism; our fight for a more just and equal society, where no discrimation persists, will continue. It was a very special moment for me, as it was the first time since August 2011 that people again lay down roses at the monument called the Blue Stone in the central square of Bergen, where people first came to show their support, to grieve and to commemorate in the weeks immediately after the terror attacks. I belong to the same political party as the victims and knew a few of them personally, so the events and the aftermath of July 22nd will forever be seared into my memory and will forever influence how I view politics and collective action.

      Again, thank you so much.

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