Imagine being a 23-year old caught up in a terror attack. Being in the immediate vicinity of a bomb being detonated that killed 22 people.
And now imagine being the reason those people were there. Being the reason the suicide bomber chose that venue, on that night, to strike.
For Ariana Grande that isn’t just a horror story. It is her life. Grande will forever remember 22 of her fans who died after attending her show in Manchester. She will remember the hundreds more who were injured and the thousands more who were terrified.
And it happened a little over a fortnight ago. Anyone standing in those shoes, who encountered a traumatic terrorist attack, would be entirely justified in retreating from life. It would be perfectly understandable, even expected, to lie low and fall apart. To shun the outside world.
Fame carries with it certain trappings but an insulation from human suffering isn’t among them. Being immune to fear isn’t either.
To witness such callous violence and be engulfed in a fear that likely has to be experienced to be understood, at the age of 23? Distressing is deeply inadequate.
Which is why I am in awe of Ariana Grande right now. She confronted a truly horrific event just two weeks ago....and then turned up to the very same place and put on a performance of a lifetime to raise money for the victims and their families.
Whether you are famous or not, that takes bravery. Whether you are young or old, that takes courage.
Which is why I am also in awe of the 50,000 people who flocked to the Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground for the One Love Manchester benefit on Sunday.
Every single person who turned up – from Grande to Justin Beiber to the Manchester locals who filled the ground, to the videographers, the dancers, the security – resisted the temptation to stay away.
Not even the London Bridge attack less than 24 hours earlier deterred them.
Every single person who congregated in Manchester made a choice yesterday. They stared fear in the eye and chose to do what they love and what they wanted.
They reveled in the music, in being among the crowd. They sang and they danced and they cried and they showed humanity at its absolute best.
There is no doubt we are in tricky terrain. The frequency of terror attacks around the world seems to be growing. It would take a particular mindset to entirely dismiss the threat posed in the wake of these atrocities.
How authorities can combat this public danger is vexed. If there were a simple solution, it would be implemented.
But terrorism raise many questions for individuals too, not the least of which is how do we respond?
Do we avoid public spaces? Skip large sporting fixtures and concerts? Stop traveling abroad?
There is always the temptation to redraw the boundaries of our lives in a bid to limit any exposure to danger. But does it work? And if it does, at what cost?
If I lived in Manchester, I honestly can’t say, with my hand on my heart, that I would have attended the One Love tribute concert. I’m genuinely unsure. Fear may have got the better of me.
But I am sure of this. If I hadn’t gone and I was watching it at home in Manchester, there is only one place I would have wanted to be. I would want to be there. To revel in the unity. To take part. To look fear in the eye and choose life instead.