I received a text message today from an unknown number. It said:
Are T+C still in Paris? Have you heard from them? Are they safe?
The number must be someone I knew since they were asking about people I knew, however I couldn’t place it. I asked who it was and he told me – oh yes. A client whose number I hadn’t added to my contacts yet. But why was he so frantic about his broker? I replied:
Yes, they’re still there through Monday. I’ve heard from them almost daily. They’re doing well!
Then I changed the subject.
But he responded with:
Turn on news. Terrorists attacked locations in Paris. Dozens killed injured.
I don’t watch the news. I barely pay attention to it unless it’s something everyone is talking about on Facebook. Turns out I also hadn’t been on Facebook for a few hours. I usually don’t miss much. But this was clearly something important.
In the next few minutes I received more texts from friends asking if I’d heard about Paris, and a few emails from other clients asking about the whereabouts and well-being of their broker. I searched our ridiculous number of channels to find a reliable news outlet and finally found the channel for the BBC. I Googled Paris and read about the attacks. And then I turned to my daughter.
I watched her as she ran around the office, tugging the dog’s ear, poking at his leg, flopping down onto the pillows on the floor. I turned back to look at the news. Nothing had changed. Hostages still captured. The body count rising. I turned off the news.
She’s almost a year and a half. She has no concept of evil, nor should she. If I had it my way, she never would. She didn’t know what was going on, but I did and I needed to step away from the madness. We went into the living room. It was cold and quiet. My husband and our guests were attending a football game in another town. I turned on the radio to break the silence and she immediately started to dance.
I paused for a few seconds and watched her. I’m not sure why. Maybe to focus on her instead of my head. But then I started to bop with her. I leaned down to pick her up and I held her close as I danced – bouncing her up and down, cradling her head, supporting her back. She nuzzled into me as we rocked and turned and enjoyed the song.
In that moment I took nothing for granted.
I thought about Veteran’s Day on this past Wednesday and how so many people have fought for us to have freedoms. For us to live the way we want to live. For me, as a woman and a mother, to have the freedoms to vote for what I want, to dress how I want, to do what I want. To raise my child how I want.
I took nothing for granted.
Then I thought of the children born into slavery, or oppression, or into labor camps. Who are people just like me and my baby. Who may never know the pure joy of dancing with their mama to a rock song. Such a simple thought but such a heartbreaking one.
I thought of those people who died tonight doing things they loved. Seeing a rock show. Eating at a restaurant. Spending the night with friends out at a bar. How they didn’t know what was coming. How none of us ever know what’s coming.
It’s a hard thing to swallow that people can do such awful things to each other. I frequently remind myself that as right as I think I am about something, someone else thinks they’re as right about the opposite position.
It’s no way to live life – being scared of every “what if.” When you get to thinking about it, it’s enough to make you never want to leave the house. It’s good to be aware of the possibilities but better to live every moment as much as you can.
And for that, I will keep living – keep appreciating every day, every thing, every experience, every teeny bit of this life I am given because of that uncertainty of when it may end. In that way I will honor those who died tonight and those who have died before them. They were living their lives and right now, that’s all I can think of to do. And I will teach my daughter to do the same.