On the morning of May 28th, Jane and Martin Weekes woke up to a house filled with children. Triplets. Three breakfast bowls to fill, three spoons to take out of the drawer and three sippy cups to hand out. Can you imagine the chaos of their morning routine? Three sets of clothes to dress three little bodies, three backpacks to organize, three faces to wash.
Every mother has heard it. It usually comes while you're trying to negotiate a stroller through a doorway, or pushing a shopping trolley while holding a small hand, trying to find your car keys and simultaneously dropping your phone. "You've got your hands full" someone will say.
Jane Weekes no longer has her hands full.
I think about Jane every day. I think about all of the families involved in the Villagio tragedy, but Jane's face has stayed with me. I can still see the anguish as she clutched the soft toys of her children in an attempt to fill her hands.
I think about Jane and Martin arriving home on the night of the 28th after a day that none of us will ever be able to truly understand. I think about them standing outside of Villagio with other parents, not knowing if their children were alive and safe while watching smoke billow from the building. The pain on all of their faces while they waited - can you imagine? Knowing your children are inside and not being able to get to them? I think about the moment when they began to carry the children out, about parents deciding who would stay behind and wait for the others while one went to the hospital. I think about them receiving the news, one by one. But mostly I think about them returning home that evening to the silence.
The empty beds, the bowls, the spoons, the sippy cups, the backpacks.
It's been nearly four months. The court case has been postponed, two out of three defendants failed to appear. We've heard that the fire began in a sports store, that there was a problem with a chord or a light - faulty electrics, but the families of the children are yet to hear a full report.
And yesterday Villagio opened for business.
The families heard of this through media reports. There was no contact by anyone else.
I watched from a distance on Twitter, and read the comments on various Facebook sites. Some believe that life goes on and we need to keep moving. Others remind us that people need their jobs and have to get back to work. And one idiot, just can't wait for the VIP section to be open.
I understand that people need their jobs, and I get it that life goes on, but I don't think that life can go on for the families until they have some answers. They've never been back to grieve in private. And they continue to wait for the court case. There is no memorial, nowhere to pay your respects. I know that culturally we all deal with loss differently - but maybe a fountain? Something for the children? Just something, anything, to recognize and remember what happened on the 28th May.
Out of respect for the families, I won't be going back to Villagio just yet. I can get my groceries somewhere else, I can go to a movie, pick up a coffee, or shop for a shirt without going to Villagio - Doha has plenty of shopping malls.
The families of those who lost their lives have released a statement on how they feel about Villagio being open for business. You can read it here.