November: In Memoriam
I wasn’t really sure how to write this monthly roundup because, in light of the Paris attacks, everything feels a little trivial and forced. I try my best to keep this online space a place of positivity and it was easier for me to publish last week’s book review for instance, because it was ready in advance before Friday 13th.
Since that day I will be honest, I have really struggled to put pen to paper. It’s hard to find the right words to talk about something like this and in fact, are there even words that would sound right, feel right? I worry about my legitimacy in sharing my sadness when I have lost no one close to me and yet, like millions of French citizens, and perhaps people around the world too, I am deeply hurt and I am angry. I worry about the legitimacy of giving this one tragedy such an important place in the world, when I understand now that there are so many others and that’s something harsh to wrap my head around, it only really hurts you when it hits close to home, what does that say about us?
I could tell you the facts: trying desperately to reach my little sister who lives in the 11th since starting her first real job in Paris this July, and praying to Heaven and Earth, heart hammering in my chest, that she would be safe, along with her boyfriend who is a journalist at Liberation (the very newspaper that is hosting the team of Charlie Hebdo in their building since January). I could tell you about calling friends and family and watching, horrified and helpless, as the events unfolded, not just over an evening but late into the night. My heart was broken in fear and in despair for all those people trapped in the Bataclan, or wounded and killed at the terrace of a cafe or restaurant while they were just having a glass of wine, a birthday meal out with friends. I ached for their families and loved ones, who were unbearably looking for them through to the next day, not knowing if they were alive, dead or fighting for their lives in a hospital somewhere in the capital. A horrendous dark cloud of fear swallowed us all.
For the next few days, I was an empty shell of a person and like many others the only thing I did was being glued to Twitter, Liberation, France 24, and The Guardian in an effort to understand, instead of sleeping or eating or living. But there is no way one can understand barbarism and violence.
You know it’s funny, the tears have gripped me at the most mundane of moments, as I pull the cover over myself at night and snuggle into my boyfriend’s arms, as I lock the door of the toilet behind me at work, as a song in French plays in my headphones while I’m shopping for groceries. There are no words to convey the extent of this pain that I feel, this mourning. We all need time to heal. I don’t know about you but for me, I think there is guilt in being the ones that are alive when others were snatched away without right or reason, with cruelty and hatred. I feel torn between this collective grief that we are experiencing, and at the same time, this streak of rebelliousness, the drive to live louder, better, because life is too short and fuck, that’s the only thing we can do.
I’m not too sure what I’m trying to accomplish with this post, really I wanted to talk to you about my month of November: about the laughs that I’ve had, the films that I’ve seen, the restaurants that I’ve tried. I wanted to tell you about getting creative with my hands and how good it has felt. I wanted to tell you about my birthday, my bucket list for the year ahead, and about reconnecting with my childhood friends but somehow, this is what is coming out instead. I will write again very soon, and it’ll be more upbeat, I promise.
In the meantime, I wanted to commit to the page this sadness and this incomprehension that I’ve felt, but also this love and these prayers that I’ve sent in bucketloads to the families of the victims; I have thought about them every day and I think I will do for a long time.