First off I'd like to thank the many of you who wrote, called, texted or Facebook messaged to learn if I was in Nice or Paris and alive and well. Yep, it could easily have been different -- if I had been in Nice for Bastille Day, I would have been on the Promenade watching the fireworks just like everyone else.
In stead, I was with my daughter and friends on the grassy plain of Invalides, picnicking and watching the fireworks...like the many thousands of others in Paris without thinking of anything more than pouring another glass of wine or grazing on picnic goodies. When the incredible fireworks ended, we walked toward our friend's car when I got a phone call from a friend in the U.S. asking, "Are you okay?"
"There was a terrorist attack in Nice and I thought you might be there," he said.
Photo by Michael Honegger
Photo by Michael Honegger
Every wonderful moment we had enjoyed all evening long on the grass at Invalides was erased at that second. We piled into the car, put on the radio and streamed news on our iPhones to hear the details of the massacre that took place with a lone driver of one large truck. I started sending out text messages to everyone I know in Nice to find out if they were okay. Fortunately, no one I knew had been injured or killed.
That didn't do much to quell the shock. The tears came when we arrived home, turned on the TV and the reality set in, seeing the bodies lying on the Promenade covered in anything they could find, including table cloths from the seaside restaurants. Since that moment, there is a heaviness in my heart, behind my eyes and in my whole body. The news is on the TV in the background to get every morsel of information, but it doesn't help lift the sadness.
There are the lives to consider, but there is the future. The biggest question on everyone's mind is how to stop the random killing of innocent lives. A debate began on Facebook, but no one really has the answers. In light of the attack, Nice cancelled its annual Jazz Festival -- and isn't that exactly what they wanted?...to instill fear to the point of self-destruction?
On the posts, Andy Ramey wrote: "I will fight back by continuing to visit France. Nice and Paris included. Adrian Leeds, leave the light on at Le Matisse for me."
Andy, I fully agree and yes I will. I will be in Nice in August at Le Matisse, leaving the light on for you and everyone. We cannot allow the fear to debilitate us. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his inaugural address, "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
I used to have a photo of this statement carved into a wall on my wall next to my computer screen. I believed it then and believe it now. Do not buy into the fear. Philosopher Eckhart Tolle, author of "The Power of Now," writes: "The more you live in the present moment, the more the fear of death disappears.
Live in the present and let the fear of death disappear. Visit France. Visit Paris. Visit Nice. The light at Le Matisse is on.
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