I can’t put into words the sorrow I feel when I think of the attacks. I was living in what I can only describe as a disassociated state that weekend. I felt as if I had been removed from my life and placed in a surreal world. Each time I opened the news, I feared what I might read. The attacks were the deadliest France had seen since World War II. I prayed there would be no more cases of violence.
The following night after the attacks, the Eiffel Tower went dark. I had never seen the tower dark at night before. Looking out my balcony, I saw only a dark silhouette of what once lit up the skyline.
I didn’t use social media at all for a few days following the attacks. Somehow it felt silly to post photos of my latte when there were families who were dealing with the shock of losing a loved one to terrorism. Death is never easy to deal with, but I imagine that unexpected death at the hands of a terrorist is the worst kind of emotional pain to experience.
Nevertheless, I felt compelled to visit the memorials to the victims. I took the train towards the neighborhood of the attacks on the afternoon of Sunday November 15, but the metro station nearby was closed. So I exited one stop early at Place de la République.
Unknowingly, I had entered into a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Place de la République, also a grieving site following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, now served as a commonplace for the French people to mourn following the attacks.
Around the central statue of Marianne, a woman embodying freedom, visitors left notes, candles, flowers and drawings. Some cried, some were silent, and others were very vocal. Armed guards were present almost everywhere I went. At one point, the crowd began to sing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
When I did begin to use Instagram again, I contributed to the hashtag #parisisaboutlife which became a popular way to stand up against terrorism. I loved the idea of celebrating the beauty of life in Paris and not letting the terrorists “win” at their disgusting game.