LONDON (AFP) — Britain will commemorate on Sunday the London Bridge terror attack that killed eight people, injured dozens and left many more traumatized and grieving.
Frenchwoman Christine Delcros, 46, was on the bridge on the night of June 3, 2017, when she lost the “love of her life” Xavier Thomas, 45, as they were enjoying a weekend in the British capital.
Like every Saturday night, the lively central London neighborhood was packed with people, many gathering in its bars to watch the Champions League final.
The couple were heading for the Shard, London’s tallest skyscraper, to enjoy the view with a cocktail when a speeding pick-up truck careered across London Bridge and slammed into a crowd of people.
“I only remember that surreal moment when I saw a crazy truck zigzagging up the sidewalk trying to hit us,” Delcros told AFP.
“I just had time to say to myself: ‘So this is how you die’ — I couldn’t even tell Xavier one last time how much I loved him.”
She was seriously injured in the collision while her partner’s body was later found in the River Thames.
The van came to a halt after smashing into a barrier near Southwark Cathedral on the south bank of the river.
The three assailants, armed with knives and wearing fake explosive vests to increase panic, then went on a stabbing rampage, attacking passers-by and customers in bars near Borough Market, a London nightlife hub.
Police shot the attackers eight minutes after the first emergency call.
The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, part of a six-month campaign of terror that swept Britain last year, claiming 35 lives.
Five were killed during an attack near London’s Houses of Parliament on March 22, and 22 died — many of them children — in a suicide attack at a pop concert in Manchester on May 22.
One year later Delcros, who lives near Paris, is still suffering from the London Bridge attack.
“I’m still on long sick leave, so I haven’t returned to work. I still have to visit hospital two days a week,” she explained.
“On the psychological level, the wounds are invisible, but they are the most serious.
“I remain traumatized by the loss of the love of my life, in circumstances beyond my comprehension,” she added, describing her partner as “so caring… with a true sense of humor.”
“Living life to the fullest and having no regrets was his motto,” she recalled.
“I fight every day to cope by drawing from the depths of this intense love that I carry for Xavier… and for our children, to not add to their suffering,” she added.
Delcros will be in London on Sunday to take part in anniversary commemorations, which include a religious service to be held at Southwark Cathedral in honor of the victims and their loved ones.
The ceremony will include the lighting of candles for each of those who died, one for all who were harmed and the planting of an olive tree, called a “Healing Tree,” in the cathedral grounds.
It will be planted using compost made from flowers left on London Bridge after the attack.
Following the service there will be a procession from the cathedral to London Bridge, before a minute’s silence, speeches and the laying of flowers.
“The first anniversary is an emotional time for everyone involved, and we hope that all will find comfort and solace in the planned events, remembering those who were lost and also those who suffered both physical and psychological harm,” said Peter John, leader of Southwark Council.
“But we must also be thankful for the heroism and commitment of many, many people.”
On Saturday and Sunday the cathedral will also host a “Book of Hope,” for members of the public to leave messages of hope and condolence.