What can I say to you about what happened that hasn't already been said, that would even come close to matching in word what unspeakable trauma you suffered on Friday?
So instead of talking about Friday, can we talk about today?
I am a storyteller. In word and song. And over the last few years I have told what began as horrific stories. Stories told to me, in letters, which I turned into songs. Letters from a mother who lost her six-year-old when he took a bullet for his classmates as he tried to stop a deranged gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary school; from a woman who was raped and beaten repeatedly as a homeless teenager; from a wife who's police officer husband was shot and killed by a gang member for sport; from a daughter whose veteran father went off the rails and stopped breathing in a puddle of his own blood with a gunshot to his gut.
But these women's stories didn't end with traumatic events.
There can be something post-traumatic other than a disorder.
Because these women took their trauma, held it close for a while, and then did something with it. The mother who lost her child started a foundation that teaches others to choose love in very impactful ways. The woman who was raped as a homeless teenager runs a shelter for homeless kids now. The widow of the police officer is raising the infant son he left behind to be a joyful, beautiful boy in his honor. The daughter wrote to her father back in time in Vietnam, then to heaven, searching for answers, and then gave that correspondence to me, hoping I could further her message of forgiveness.
Their stories belong to all of us.
As does your story, Paris.
And your story doesn't have to end here, with anger and pain and fear haunting you forever. Humans are a resilient breed, and you have a whole legendary city of humans who have given the world some of its greatest beauty through art and culture. Beauty that helps others heal, that makes the world more livable for everyone, that makes us pause at what wonders humans can create.
What will you do with this deep, searing trauma?
Can you do something good with it?
I believe you can.
Even something beautiful.