I have to say something. About Paris. What just happened to the beautiful French people, and others from different nations. This has to stop. What is the purpose? I know the answer. Hate. And I’m tired of it. It has to end. What are we going to do to stop it? What can I do from my corner of the world? What can you do?
I have never been to France. I hope to someday make the trip. But, I will tell you the story of my little girl, who dreamed of going to Paris ever since she was 4 years old and saw “Anastasia.” Her hopes and plans to see this distant city never waned over the years; they only grew stronger and more determined. She felt drawn to this place of history, beauty, art, and love. My daughter saved her money and in the Spring of 2014, her vision of herself gazing at the Eiffel Tower became a truth, a reality for her when she traveled there on a study-abroad trip with her university. The trip of a lifetime.
My girlie loved her trip. She visited Notre Dame, the Catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, “Love Lock” or Pont des Arts bridge, among many others her mother does not know how to spell or say. She ate mussels, crepes, cheese, baguettes, and jam. She was mistaken for being a little French girl and was often asked for directions from other tourists. It was a tremendous compliment to her and she relished in it, hating to disappoint them when she spoke in an American accent, revealing she was not a native of France, but was French at heart. This beautiful girl of mine came home more in love with France and its people than she had been before she even set foot there, which was a pretty immense love, I might mention. She longs to go back. The people were so generous, beautiful, and loving to her. She saw beauty everywhere she went, and she mourned when the trip was at its close. I know boarding that jumbo jet to come home was difficult. She missed her family, but she never wanted to leave Paris.
She has been busy this last week, with her student teaching, work, and a heavy school schedule. We haven’t talked about what happened and how it made her feel, but I already know and I knew immediately. She was the first one I knew who changed her Facebook picture to have the French flag across it. She posted an image of the Eiffel tower and the American flag stretched out with French soldiers saluting it and showing solidarity for the United States after September 11th. I know inside her heart is breaking. I know she is praying, for all her French friends she made but does not know their names. For the landmarks and places she visited. For the people who make the crepes and the pastries. For all those locking their love on the bridge and throwing away the keys.
I don’t think I’ve ever been the same since my country of America was attacked on 9/11. My husband and I were up for two weeks straight watching the news, reading the papers, and trying to just make sense of what had happened. Our children were little grade-schoolers then. I knew I could keep them safe, then. At home. With me. But that is no longer true. They are now adults. Making grown-up plans. Applying to graduate school. Flying around the country on interviews. Attending university. Traveling on public transportation. In large crowds. Without me and without their dad. Can I just say that I hate that? I hate that I can’t keep them safe by keeping them home, making cookies and reading their favorite book to them. We have raised them to know that they could do and be anything they desired and their dreams and plans are coming true. What does that quote say, “a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for?” Something like that?
As a mother, I beg this world to stop it already with the hate that makes my children unsafe. That makes every child unsafe, and every human being unsafe. We are all children of God and He loves us all. God hates it when we do these things to each other. People hurting and killing and suffering. Think how twisted it all is. It makes no sense. None. My prayers are different now than they were after America was attacked. They are a lot more intense, a lot more pleading in wanting us to have a safe and peaceful world where my children and your children, have a chance to do and be what God hopes for and needs them to do and be.
In my tiny way, I thank France, all these years later for her love for America and her support after we were attacked. I want them to know that I love them and pray for them and hope they can still find a way to be happy. I cherish them because my daughter cherishes them. I hope to go to Paris someday with her so she can show me all the things she wants to see again and those she still wants to see for the first time.
My little lovey locked her love for France on the bridge that day. Not love for a boy, though there was one at home she cared about at the time. No, she locked her love on the bridge that day for Paris, France and all its people and history. And in a way, she locked mine too, because I love her so much, I love what she loves and care about what she cares about. And she is the most guile-less person I have ever met in my life. She doesn’t like contention or conflict and loves everyone.
So for my precious daughter, I beg you, world, to calm down the hate. We can’t have any more cities or people suffer. All over the world, everywhere, people are hurting and have been hurt. It has to stop. And this love I feel for France through my daughter, also spills to every country and every people. I want people to be safe and loved and have food to eat and clean water, without war and violence. And there are places I want to go to someday, but now am afraid I will never be able to. The world just gets more and more frightening.
But, I want to feel again like I felt after 9/11. The terrorists cannot win. We can’t let them. And maybe the only control we have is with our love and our determination to live our lives, anyway. We have to go to work and school and fly to grad school interviews. We need to go shopping and to the football games and concerts. And church. And we must try as hard as we can not to be afraid because that is what terror is–fear. We must go on. The best we can. And be courageous and bold. In solidarity with and for each other. I might not be able to fight terrorism directly, but I can love indirectly and pray for my brothers and sisters around the world. Please, God, help us be safe. I want to see Paris someday, too.
I love this song, “Afterlife” by Ingrid Michaelson.
It expresses how I felt after 9/11 and how I feel today, still.
You can watch the video here:
Permission for photos given by AKH, all copyrighted under Becoming Cream.