Dear family and friends,
I wanted to let you know I am fine and that I am thinking of you all.
The events of Friday night have left me weary. My heart is broken.
Pas de Loup, the restaurant where I work is right around the corner from the Bataclan, the concert hall that was at the centre of one of the Paris attacks. It was the middle of service, not a particularly busy one. We had around 60 guests in total.
Suddenly a man we know rushed into our front entrance in a state of panic. He was yelling and waving his arms, telling people to get back, that he had escaped from the Bataclan, that there were men with machine guns and that we needed to take cover.
We were stunned. People didn’t know what to do. Some sat still, some stumbled over their chairs and each other, others tried to hide themselves under the tables.
I ran out from behind our open kitchen which is at the front of the restaurant. I grabbed my friend’s hands and pulled him inside. His arms were covered in blood. It was not his own.
I started pushing people towards the back, yelling at them to take cover. I somehow instinctively knew that we needed to close the front gate and we needed to do it quickly. I shouted at my colleagues to get the keys. We all ran to the front tossing furniture aside to make way for the metal curtain that could close us off from the street. People could be seen in the street running in every direction.
We sat behind our “iron curtain” and we waited. If someone decided to shoot through it, it would have given us minimal protection but it’s existence made us feel as if we were in relative safety.
Slowly information about what was happening seeped through. At first the scale of it all was hard to comprehend.
I wiped the blood off my friend. I sent messages to my parents and my boyfriend to let them know that I was all right. We started to close and clean the kitchen keeping our minds and hands busy. The image of a finished plate of tartare is marked on my mind. Perfectly garnished and ready to be served, it oddly slid so effortlessly into the garbage.
From there all we could do was wait. There were so many unknowns. We didn’t need to speak about what we would do. We knew we would just have to deal with it when the time came.
Around midnight I lost contact with my boyfriend who had insisted on making his way down to the restaurant. He had ridden his bike through road blocks and police barricades telling them each time that he was living only just around the corner.
When he finally arrived the relief was unimaginable. There were many long hugs and some glasses of very expensive bourbon. We were, in some ways thankful to be stuck in a bar.
When the police finally let people go home the staff hugged each other. We looked knowingly into each other’s eyes, thankful to have been together.
Thomas and I rode home on his bike, me riding double on the back which usually makes me giggle and smile in delight. This time we were quiet.
All of the places affected were in neighbourhoods where I spend my time. They are next to where I work and live.
Questions hit me hard and often – always leading to the biggest question…WHY!?
I’m not sure I can ever truly understand.
One thing is certain, this is a call for help. There are many people in this world who feel unloved and unvalued. I know we can’t individually care for them all but we need to show those around us that they are wanted.
I thought of you all individually as I was writing this letter. There are still tears in my eyes but I am still here. I am still here to love and to care for each of you.
Please spread my love and my message around. There is more than enough to go around.
With all my heart,
(Forwarded with love from our daughter Lina.)
Have a listen to “Sous le Ciel de Paris” by Edith Piaf here.