Oh my God, my parents were right. Paris is dangerous. It’s not Paris' fault, though. I spent the weekend questioning every decision I’ve made regarding Gracie studying in Paris. I wanted her to have a global education, one filled with history, culture, different cultures, language, art and a fully rounded education. I thought Paris was the best place for that. I still think it is but at what price?
Friday evening at our house in the South of France that we have lived in for exactly 15 days, my daughter, Gracie, who is a junior at the American University of Paris came into our bedroom and told us that something was happening in Paris. We quickly turned on the news and saw what was happening. As we watched, Gracie kept saying, “I go to that concert hall all the time. I order take-out from the wok restaurant next door to the Bataclan every week. It’s down the street from my apartment. I pass the restaurant where the shootings happen every day on my way to the Metro to school. This is my neighborhood.” Just like when I was diagnosed with ALS, I literally left my body. The thought of my daughter near any of this evil was not actually registering. This can’t be true, I thought. If my daughter were not with me in Provence this particular weekend, she would’ve been out with her boyfriend and friends in that neighborhood. She quite literally could have been killed by a terrorist. (Everything my parents.
This is what my parents had been warning me about since 1989. Their worst nightmare came true. It’s one thing if me, their daughter, was in the middle of all of this but it’s even worse if the love of their life, their granddaughter, Gracie, was in the middle of any of this.
Every question went through my head:
Do I take Gracie out of school in Paris?
Do I transfer her to a community college in Nebraska where it’s safe?
Do I keep Gracie in school in Paris and teach her to not let terrorism win?
Do I have Gracie buy a gun? Seriously, this thought went through my head.
Do I move back to Paris to protect Gracie?
When many of you were kindly sending me emails expressing your concern (thank you), the above questions were going through my head. What do I do! I spent the weekend going over everything in my head. I, as Gracie’s mother, had to make a decision.
I decided that the best thing to do was to have Gracie go back to Paris, move out of this particular neighborhood, continue studying at her college, and unfortunately learn how to be vigilant with her safety. No metros, no large crowds and keep your eyes open for anything suspicious. And then I thought to myself, “Well, that’s stupid.” How can Gracie not take the Metro? How can she not go to concerts? How could she be “on the lookout for terrorists?” It’s unrealistic and impossible. I decided that there has to be some sort of moderation… Have Gracie live her life freely but this world is not always safe and you have to protect yourself somewhat.
The second worry that I had was for the terrorists themselves. Gracie told me that the terrorists shot people who were in wheelchairs. That really got me thinking and opened a can of worms between my husband, my daughter and I. My argument was that the terrorists must have just for one itty-bitty little second, thought about shooting someone in a wheelchair. My husband and Gracie disagreed. My thought was that these terrorists were not born evil. No one is. Were they ever loved? Who changed their diapers? At what point did they not value life anymore? What happened to them for them to become this violent? Who raised them? Did they ever go to kindergarten and use colors, sing songs, drink apple juice from a sippy cup and take naps? Do I blame their parents? (Probably.) David and Gracie argued that they did not stop for a second and consider shooting someone in a wheelchair or anyone at all for that matter. I beg to differ. Don’t get me wrong, these terrorists are monsters and I would shoot anyone of them if I had to if under a threat. However, I am far more interested in the “why.” Why did they do this? I mean, yes, I know why and I understand ISIS and its ideology but I really want to know why why. Who taught them to behave like this? Why did they think that this is okay in their eyes? Why do they think their God condones this? I think that this is the bigger question we need to solve. Like the Black-Eyed Peas sing, “What’s wrong with the world, mama? People living like they ain’t got no mamas.”
What are all of your thoughts regarding the Paris attacks? Do you feel like there is sadness on both sides? Be honest.