When Terrorism Hits Close to Home, Even It’s Thousands of Miles Away

December 4, 2008

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, now called the Mumbai Massacre by many, happened thousands of miles away from Montreal, but geography is not an issue in today’s world.

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, now called the Mumbai Massacre by many, happened thousands of miles away from Montreal. But, geography is not an issue in today’s world and many people in Montreal, particularly in the medical community, were deeply affected by the atrocious violence. The two Canadians who were among the 100+ killed by the terrorists were a medical doctor, Dr. Michael Moss, and his companion, a social worker and former nurse, Elizabeth Russell.

Dr. Moss was in his 70s and still practicing; Ms. Russell was 65 and still working as a social worker and counseling in private practice.

As healthcare professionals, most of us have been told what we should do in case of a violent emergency like a riot or an explosion. After the events of 9/11, we’re more aware of our vulnerability for attack. But nothing hits it closer to home when you know one of the victims of such an attack.

Both Dr. Moss and Ms Russell worked at the now-closed Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Montreal. I had many dealings with Dr. Moss as he was the admitting doctor for several of the patients on my floor, a medical unit. He also worked in our emergency room, a place I ended up more than a few times because of my clumsy ways. I couldn’t tell you much about the man. I really only knew him as a coworker from time to time, but I do remember the sound of his voice, his British accent and his dry humor. I’d not thought about him for years — it had been at least 10 years, if not longer, since I’d last seen him. But I do know that many people liked him and appreciated him. He was due back at work yesterday, Monday, at a convalescence/rehabilitation center where he was working part time. Although Ms. Russell’s picture looked vaguely familiar, I can’t recall if I ever worked with her.

Oddly enough, reports in a recent paper quoted a relative of Ms. Russell saying that Dr. Moss said that he would die in India. He had heart disease and he didn’t think he’d come home. And again, oddly, were the circumstances of the deaths. While it’s not been confirmed, reports are that Dr. Moss and Ms. Russell weren’t even together the day they died, that they were victims in two different places. If that is true, then this really does make me wonder about life plans and destiny.