Saturday night after the kids were in bed, Dave and I looked at each other and said, “I felt really absent today,” and “I just couldn’t focus on anything; why?” It wasn’t until that moment that I realize we were experiencing shock from the tragic shootings that rocked Paris the night before. We had spent the day indoors, I check my phone for news updates constantly and closed the curtains early that night.
The next morning we went to church. There were two dads and their young sons from our church that had been at the soccer match on Friday night when the suicide bombers bombed the stadium. Our friends from church were unharmed and were even unaware of the magnitude of what had happened until the next morning. Seeing their calm reassured me. And the fresh reminder of God’s grace on their lives helped me take a step out of the daze. Later Sunday afternoon, we went to the little zoo that’s in town thanks to the circus. Does that seem irreverent? It was good to be there with neighbors and process through how we were all doing. It’s this crazy in-between of feeling the pain of the depth of evil and still living day-to-day life.
Monday morning Dave took off to teach a seminar in Malta while I stayed behind with the kids. I kept our little girl home from preschool that day because I didn’t like the thought of our family being so spread out all at once. Tuesday, however, I was ready to take another step out of the daze. Lexie was happy to go back to school and her little friend was relieved to have her buddy back at recess. It was also Tuesday when I looked at a list of some of the victims and it sunk in deeper that these people were real folks just going out for a good time. As my in-laws would say, “It’s Friday night in Paris!” One of the victims was the owner of a restaurant I ate in the Friday night before (she was out celebrating her birthday at another restaurant in the neighborhood when she lost her life).
The yo-yo of emotions continued today when I skipped with joy when Dave pulled up in front of our apartment building, “He’s home!” Shortly thereafter, the French police raided a building in a suburb just north of Paris in an attempt to catch the mastermind behind Friday’s terrorist attacks. Ahh…
Each person is on their own journey in coming out of the daze and figuring out what life looks like now. As I talk to people I need to be careful to not compare myself to where they’re at in the process. One of my friends does a beautiful job articulating her hope in God as she faces the future. Another friend has decided to stop going to the theater and not go the the shopping mall by her apartment out of fear. One nanny I talked to at the park went the day after the shootings to the neighborhood where they happened; while another nanny found the idea horrific. And me; where am I at in the process? I’m waiting on God to give me “that word” or thought to help push my soul farther out of the daze. I have a deep, roaring conviction that He is in control and that He is good. So, maybe it is more so the depth of evil that I’m still grappling with… I’m not sure. This is where I’m at in the journey. How about you?
Last night I was only a ten minute walk away from my family and yet didn’t feel safe walking home. Sirens blaring, streets deserted and news pouring in of more and more victims and shootings. I was at our student Bible study for the first time this year. Normally, Dave is the one that goes but this week we decided I’d go.
I was just gathering up my things to start walking about around 9:50 P.M. when one of my teammates got a text asking if she was ok from her dad in California. (It’s always like that- we get news of what’s going on in France from family and friends texting from the U.S. Crazy how it all works these days…). We turned on the news, I called Dave and those of us at the Bible study made a plan for what each of us would do. Some were staying the night at Beth and Haley’s (where the Bible study was), another had to start making his one hour journey home because of commitments this morning and I didn’t know what to do. My baby, only 5 months old, still nurses every three hours and it was already amazing she hadn’t woken up while I was gone. Dave and I decided to have me sit it out a bit and see if they caught the gunmen or if there were more shootings. The shootings got closer and closer to our neighborhood as the night went on, so we wanted to make sure that trend didn’t continue. The last one was a good 20 minute bike ride from our place.
There were seven women left at the Bible study- we were glued to our phones and BFMTV for updates. We prayed for those traveling home and waited for news from our family, friends and teammates. Around 1 A.M. Dave knew he had to make something happen when he rummaged through the cupboards and freezer and realized there was no formula or breastmilk for Chloe. He had the great idea to text our neighbor and see if she could come down and stay with the sleeping kids while he drove to pick me and my friend Karen up from the Bible study. It was a go.
He pulled up in front of Beth and Haley’s apartment building, we hopped in – me sitting on the floor because the carseats were taking up the seats— and we drove home. People were driving through red lights because the streets were deserted and the police had better things to do than stop us. The roads were blocked just beyond our house- much like they were in January, I imagine, during the Jewish supermarket hostage situation. We quickly parked at home and went up to our apartment. Laura, our neighbor, greeted me with tears in her eyes. She’s a mom, too.
I was never so relieved to respond to my baby’s cry last night. And never so happy to hear my two year old cry out “Mama” because he couldn’t find his blanket in the night. Paris is our home and last night our home suffered tragically. I can only imagine those who didn’t make it home last night to their kids. I don’t want to think of those who are “still waiting” for news from their loved ones. Please pray for peace for those who witnessed the crimes, for their families and for the Parisian authorities to have wisdom. Would you also pray for our family? Dave is leaving on Monday to teach at a European leaders’ event with our job. It’s only a two and a half day trip but it could seem long in this uncertain time.