Artwork by Hallie Anderson
Imagine a place that holds weight in your heart, either because of its beauty or because of certain special memories you have there. Now imagine that something is not the same.
When my family returned to Paris over winter break, I was hit with a disheartening feeling. The stunning, radiant city was missing something: the brilliance and beauty of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
As a result of a fire on Apr. 15, 2019, the roof and spire of the cathedral were destroyed, along with significant damage to the windows and ceilings. If I looked closely enough, I could tell that the church did not shine as brightly as it had when my family and I had visited before. It was blocked off completely, and there were neither decorations nor a Christmas tree outside; the annual Christmas Mass at the cathedral was cancelled.
My family has traditionally had a picnic on the River Seine with Notre Dame in clear view behind us each time we have traveled to Paris. I also have special memories of climbing one of the towers of the church and looking out over the beauty of the city.
We can’t be sure if the structure will ever be strong enough for people to climb the towers again.
It was extremely disheartening to watch the news as the cathedral was engulfed in flames, but it was even more painful to witness the destruction firsthand. It felt like the fire had stripped me and my family of those happy moments the cathedral used to give us, and I could only begin to imagine what the Parisians felt as their symbol of peace and togetherness burned.
I’m grateful to have experienced the magic of Notre Dame, and I am able to understand some of what the Parisians felt when this beloved structure was burning. Although I wish the St. Mary’s students participating in the French Immersion Trip this summer could see Notre Dame at its finest, I’m confident that they will be stunned by the beauty of Paris.
We may have to accept that the cathedral may not look exactly like it did before the fire.
We all have things in life we can’t go back to, either because we have changed or because the thing itself or the situation has changed. This is a tough truth to face, and we feel somewhat of a slap in the face when we realize that something has been taken away from us or that things are not the same.
The juniors have begun to start the college process, and it’s beginning to hit me that my life as I know it will soon be changing. Sometimes I wish I could return to simpler times, and I think that’s a common feeling among many juniors and seniors. However, there is much hope in the future. We must take time to cherish the memories we have and move on.
Although the interior of Notre Dame was destroyed, the cross at the altar remains standing as a tangible symbol of hope. Things in life do change, but some things never will: our most special memories will never leave us. Notre Dame may look and feel different in the future, but my memories associated with it will stay with me.
For & By Students
Our website videos were made in partnership with St. Mary's video-making publication, Bella Vista.
Click on the author or artist's name to view more of her work!
HAVE AN ARTICLE IN MIND?