Violet's Giving Flowers Away

Last Sunday's mass shooting on the Danforth left me shaken, perhaps more so because I live in the neighbourhood next door. I heard about it half an hour after it happened, and for the rest of the night I was riveted to live news feeds as the horrific details trickled in. On Monday afternoon I had an errand to run near there, and I walked along Danforth Avenue in a daze, just trying to process my feelings.

By then, the focus of the coverage had shifted to how the survivors comforted and assisted the victims until the paramedics arrived. Human stories of raw love and compassion began to emerge from the mayhem. I was especially touched by the tale of nine-year-old Violet Thomson, an area resident who'd hand-picked flowers from her garden and was handing them out along the Danforth. When asked why, she simply replied, "because of what happened last night." Here's Violet getting ready to perform her good work (photos by Albert Leung/CBC) ...

... and giving flowers to a police officer on the scene.



Now, it so happens that in the few days preceding the shooting, I'd been working on a new song. As is my usual process, I worked out the chord sequence, strung the individual parts together and overlaid a wordless melody line. As for the lyrics, I hadn't planned on writing about the tragedy; that is, until I read about Violet and saw these touching images. So, with heartfelt gratitude to Violet Thomson, Md Ashaduzamman, Linda Falagario and those whose names didn't make the news, here's a song inspired by their love, courage and compassion, "Violet's Giving Flowers Away."


Took a walk along the city’s spine
Trying to reclaim what’s yours and mine
Shaken as we are, waiting on that morning star to heal this scar

I’m not saying I know there’s enough to go around
But on this blackest night, here’s where compassion was found
She cried and sutured his wound, as ammo polluted the room
And Violet’s giving flowers away on the Danforth today

Saw this sign that’s louder than the gun
“Love for all and hatred for none”
I pray with heavy heart when innocents get torn apart before they start
I'm not saying I know there's enough to go around
But on this blackest night, here's where compassion was found
He held her, begging, "stay with me," but angels fly too easily
And Violet's giving flowers away on the Danforth today
When it all shakes down
Let's remember our dear Greektown
Where love went down
I'm not saying I know there's enough to go around
But on this blackest night, here's where compassion was found
She held her and said, "you're not alone," but angels have to go home
And Violet's giving out flowers on the Danforth today
Violet's giving flowers away from her garden today

© 2018 Vern Nicholson (SOCAN)

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Photographs by Carol Witwicky. Instrument illustrations and GZ logo © 2017 Grinning Zone Studios.
Album and lyrics page artwork © 2017 Gabriel Altrows. Web design by Vern Nicholson.
Sour Landslide and Benvereens archival footage courtesy Neil Whitlock.
All pages and contents © 2017-2019 Vern Nicholson.