Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Grieving with the people of Paris November 17, 2015

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Eiffel Tower

 

DURING MY WEEKLY SUNDAY evening phone call to my mother, who lives in southwestern Minnesota, we talked about the terrorist attacks in Paris. Mom shared how she could not stop watching media coverage of the tragedy.

And then she asked about my eldest, confused as to when my daughter and her husband had been in Paris. Six months ago, I assured her. Not recently, as she thought.

I, too, had been thinking about the May trip and how thankful I was that my loved ones were safely back home in Minnesota. But then I thought of the mom in California who will never welcome her daughter home. And I considered all the other families grieving the deaths of loved ones. How could I possibly relate or understand?

But I can. As human beings we can understand grief. I need only view the still photos of the tragedy in Paris and the aftermath to feel the grief. As I click through image after image after image, my grief rises and spills into tears. These photos tell a story and record history in a way that no words ever can. All too often the media is criticized for focusing on the negative. But it is their job to cover events, good and bad.

This sculptor of Alexander Faribault trading with a Dakota trading partner stands in Faribault's Heritage Park near the Straight River and site of Faribault's trading post. Faribault artist Ivan Whillock created this sculpture which sits atop a fountain known as the Bea Duncan Memorial Fountain.

This sculptor of Alexander Faribault trading with a Dakota trading partner stands in Faribault’s Heritage Park near the Straight River and site of Faribault’s trading post. Faribault artist Ivan Whillock created this sculpture which sits atop a fountain known as the Bea Duncan Memorial Fountain. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I’ve never been to France. I have no personal connection to the country. But I live in a Minnesota community with a French name—Faribault—founded by the son of a French-Canadian fur trader. French names like LeMieux, Archambault, LaCanne, Chappius, De Grood, Decoux and La Roche are common here. Whether these families are still connected to folks in the Old Country, I don’t know.

But we are all connected—no matter where we live—by the commonality of humanity and by grief, the most basic of human emotions. Today, and in the days since the most recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere, we are a world grieving.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling