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17 July 2012 @ 10:07 pm
717  
A year ago today, the main stage at Ottawa Bluesfest collapsed.

There are moments of that day that are still very clear in my mind like hiding behind a car to protect myself from the huge gusts of wind that was kicking up dust. A few seconds later, fat droplets of rain started falling... and a few, very fast heartbeats later, it was a downpour.

I had been at the River stage guarding the gate that leads to backstage at Wellington and Vimy and I had been at Bluesfest since 11am. I had felt something in the air, but I thought that it was just a big thunderstorm and everyone else I talked to had a similar thought.

Boy were we wrong.

I remember the car (which was either a van or an SUV) rocking back and forth from the wind. Then I heard Shelley call my name, and we ran into the production trailer. The car wasn't rocking that much, but after a few minutes in the trailer, that was rocking pretty hard.

At this point, I still had no idea what was going on except for the fact that it was a freak storm.

We were evacuated to under the bridge and stayed there until the storm more or less blew over. I don't know when I heard about the stage collapsing but, when I did, all I wanted to do is run to main stage and find everyone I knew who had been there.

AR had performed an hour ago, so I didn't know if she was in her trailer or not (she was drinking and off-site with some friends I later found out). My brother volunteered in the Mill Street tent, which was between the stage that collapsed and Claridge stage. And there were people in my Bluesfest family who had been working main stage.

We were damn lucky there were only a few minor injuries and nothing else. A few days later, the same model of stage collapsed at another outdoor music venue, killing several people.

When everyone was finally evacuated to the war museum, I ran everywhere, finding my family, touching and hugging them, making sure that they were relatively ok.

To this day, I cannot think about what happened without being extremely emotional. I might joke or have a smile on my face when I tell you what happened, but inside I am choked up.

But it's not fear I'm feeling, it's relief and gratitude. Because we are alive. Because we didn't lose anyone. Because we survived.

We were the lucky ones.

I can't even begin to imagine what would've happened if I had been at main stage like I wanted to be instead of River. Would I be here today? What if my Bluesfest family who WERE there hadn't gotten out in time? What if my brother had been in the crowd or right beside main stage when it collapsed? What if my friends who were planning on going hadn't changed their minds? What if AR hadn't been off-site?

So many more what ifs run through my mind whenever I think about 7.17, but I am glad that I will never have to know the answer to any of those questions.