Notre Dame of Paris
It was 1978 and I was twenty one years old. I had never been abroad but chose Paris as the city I wished to continue my undergraduate degree in Art History. I consider myself both an Anglophile and a Francophile yet Paris had won out and so off I went in January of 1978.
You know how places have smells? Paris will forever remind me of diesel fuel and gray days for that is how I first experienced her. For me, Notre Dame carried the scent of wax, wood and feeling insignificant yet I felt such a sense of calm and awe. Total awe. This feeling would never leave me.
Yes, there are other churches in Paris, but none like <em>Our Lady of Paris</em>. I remember the first time I saw her lit up at night, a beacon of spirituality, history and hope. I was so young yet I felt so lucky to be in what would become my favorite European city. I don't know, there is something about Paris that calls to me; maybe that is why all my novels are set there.
As I watched her burn yesterday, I felt sick, a sentiment I know was shared with millions around the world. I watched with such a sense of defeat, of helplessness and dread. I kept asking myself how can you replace a monument that witnessed centuries of wars, marriages, revolutions and kings? Which holds such profoundly religious and significant artifacts?
The answer is, you cannot. It's been twenty-four hours and I am still on shaky ground here. I still cannot believe what I witnessed yesterday on the television. I know Notre Dame will be rebuilt and perhaps I will be alive to witness the next incarnation of this beacon of art, history and spirituality, but right now, I have a knot in my stomach. I am in shock and though I cannot adequately express my grief, I need to write about it, to take keyboard in hand and pour some of my feelings out here on this page.