I was at folk dancing yesterday evening when the news broke. We were dancing to a lively song. No one was taking much notice of the large screen that usually shows the lyrics of the songs we dance to but, because of the World Cup, showed the TV programmes.

One match had just finished and the news took its place. Gradually people started to point to the screen. One by one people stopped dancing and gathered round the screen to stare at the awful words at the bottom.

The bodies of the three teenagers have been found.

For eighteen days we had been hoping, talking, writing, tweeting with the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys. We knew the best outcome would be to find them and bring them back. The next best outcome would be one of those prisoner exchanges – thousands of violent criminals, including murderers, in return for our three innocent boys, two of them only sixteen years old.

But the final outcome was the worst of all. Perhaps, in our hearts, it was the one we expected the most, but it was also the one we all hoped wouldn’t be.

Why did we care so much about three boys, with faces and names the vast majority of us didn’t recognise three weeks ago? Because, although we argue with each other as much as a nation can, although we often don’t care for others as we should, when something like this happens we become one big family. Those boys become our boys, the parents our brothers and sisters.

That lively song was soon turned off. For the rest of the evening we danced to slower, sadder songs. Most people left early and the dance session ended earlier than usual.

As they say, normal service will be resumed. Next week we will dance as usual. But we won’t forget what happened to our boys.

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