The fire at Notre Dame teaches me a lesson I must learn over and over

Ancestry DNA tells me that I am 100% of French descent. This matches everything I know about my family history. I have vivid memories of being home with the chicken pox in the fourth grade, trying to teach myself French from the books in our home (my father spoke French before English, and my mother went to school half the day in English and half in French). I eventually became fluent in French and spent one glorious year living in French Alps. I am not French, but France is a part of me.

Notre Dame Cathedral on Fire
A friend shared this image of the fire, taken from City Hall

Is that enough to explain the deep sense of loss I felt watching fire engulf Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral on my son’s 16th birthday? Maybe. Maybe not.

Last year I took my boys for their first visit to Notre Dame. Not once did it occur to me that their children or grandchildren might not have the same opportunity or that 800+ years of history could go up in smoke. We took for granted that it would always be there.

Posing outside Notre Dame Cathedral
An August 2018 visit to Notre Dame.

The April 15 fire that engulfed the Cathedral was yet another reminder to me of a lesson I have had to learn over and over: Tomorrow is not promised.

Life can change in a moment. Now is the time to do the things on your “someday” list. Now is when you should spend time with the people you love. Now is when you should set aside your to-do queue and go for a walk with your sweetheart. Now is when you should visit the places you have always wanted to see.

What are you going to do now?

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