Why I Mourn Most of All for Paris

I mourn most of all for Paris.

It's not that I don't care about the people of Kenya, or Beirut, or Lebanon. Those passengers on the Russian jet -- including the 25 children, those poor children -- make me impossibly sad. Across the world, every day, people are victims of senseless violence and terrorism.

But when it happened in Paris, somehow it felt personal.

"Where is the outrage for the people of Beirut?" people rightly ask.

"What about the passengers on that Russian plane?" people shout. "Don't their lives matter?"

These are good questions. And across the world, there are millions of people mourning these souls, missing them and lighting candles and praying for them.

But for me, Paris felt familiar.

I've visited Paris, and like most who have seen it, fell in love with its beauty, its history, its glamour... its Paris-ness. I have family who have lived in Paris off and on over the years. My cousins are musicians who have performed in Paris and across France many times. Had they been in Paris at the time of the attacks, they might very well have been out in the 10th arrondissement with their friends - could, in fact, have been at the Bataclan, where people they knew were killed or forever changed by what happened.

I understand Paris. It's a place that feels both impossibly foreign and yet familiar. Before I visited the city I had read countless books, seen films, heard songs, knew words. Frere' Jacques. Entre' nous. Je t'aime. Au revoir. Nearly everyone I know has been there. I've never been to Beirut. I don't know a lot about Nigeria. I wish I knew more about both places, I wish I was better informed, more educated, more traveled, more worldly. But I'm not. At least, I'm not right now.

And so I mourn for Paris most of all - for the painfully young faces of the victims, so beautiful, so lovely, so tragically gone. I mourn for the cartoonists killed at Charlie Hebdo. I worry for the Parisian Jews who must be even more terrified now than they were after 4 people were killed at the Kosher market. I understand that fear. When Jewish people are targeted I feel afraid most of all. I can't help that.

I cannot take on the sorrow of the whole world. I cannot mourn in my heart for everyone. I can be upset, and angry, and frightened to even leave my home some days, the world is so scary. But I do leave my home, and I mourn for those I feel I could have known, might have even crossed paths with at some time or another. I have been to their city, breathed their air, walked their streets.

That is why I mourn for Paris.

Previously published on Empty House Full Mind