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A Winter In Paris Never Forgotten

The snow is coming down as I write, not consistently though — large flakes will float past then it turns to a light rain. This has been one of the grayest, wettest winters I can remember, but not the coldest. A chill goes through my spine, though, not for the dampness, but for a tragedy that occurred here in Paris this past weekend which jolts me to appreciate all that we have.

My daughter sleeps soundly in the next room. On Friday she goes to the OMI (Office Migrations Internationales) for her medical exam entitling her to a Carte de Résident to live here like a citizen for the next ten years. Then she heads back to New York to complete her studies, planning to return to Paris in the Summer to continue her education here in France. Here she can attend university practically free of charge and she’ll have the right to work with her new visa. She’ll even have the right to apply for citizenship, which I know she is planning.

She and her friends have always made our home their home. They freely come and go, boys and girls together, little difference between them. In fact, it’s noticable, how comfortable the French kids are together…not so much girls with girls, boys with boys, as I grew up. Each time they enter and pass me sitting at the desk, they say “bonjour” and come over to kiss me on both cheeks. It’s a ritual they practice with each other as well. Quelle politesse!

One particular long-time friend, who was here on Friday with the other kids, seemed her usual sweet self. Later we learned she had complained of boyfriend problems — but, not so out of the ordinary. Monday we learned she had taken her own life…hung herself in her father’s apartment.

Incredulous — no answer for her impromptu and violent action. We wept, we hugged each other, we couldn’t grasp this idea that it was true. In the cold and the rain and the chill, we visited the family in their apartment near Place de la Victoire and saw her newly renovated room with her things in boxes ready to be reinstalled in their new places and we wept more. Now we await news of a funeral and dread saying a formal goodbye to such a young person, just 19, with so much life left to live, suddenly aborted.

This brings to mind all the friends who have lost a child, of whom I know more than I care, for many different reasons — illness, suicide, accident and causes unknown. Regardless, the loss is devastating to a parent. We aren’t supposed to bury our children, are we? The only thing we can hope for is to arrive at some acceptance that this is a part of life…whether in Paris, New York, London or wherever on this planet.

Today’s letter is a memorial for all who have experienced this loss and to a winter in Paris that will never be forgotten.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]


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