Fear is loud. Travel with earplugs.

je suis nice
Candles line the Capitole de Toulouse in remembrance of those killed in the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.

TOULOUSE, France – We woke this morning to the tragic news in Nice. At least 84 families  have lost loved ones on a day reserved for celebrating unity after a suspected terrorist drove a refrigerator truck onto a well-known promenade and into a crowd after a Bastille Day fireworks show.

The fact that this is beyond horrifying is easily understood, but the question in my mind now shifts from “When will it stop?” to “WILL it stop?”

President Hollande called up 10,000 military and police reservists to boost border patrols at airports and rail crossings into the country – which would explain the dozen or so armed soldiers we saw patrolling the train station upon our arrival in Toulouse. Not to mention the four steely-eyed men in black berets and camo who walked past our dinner at a sidewalk cafe tonight with rifles in hand.

horror and panic
The front-page headline today reads “Nice: Horror and panic.”

It’s an incredibly strange feeling to visit a country in the wake of so much pain and suffering. And yet, there’s an oddly formed solidarity there because as Americans, we too, continue to experience grief on multiple fronts.

Hollande ordered three days of mourning – as though you can put an expiration date on grief. I read today that the psychological unit within the local children’s hospital that took in some 28 injured kids is also caring for scores of young siblings in a state of shock after witnessing their brothers and sisters who were hit in the attack. Not to mention the 50 others “between life and death” and their devastated families. The effects are far-reaching.

My husband and I both received emails today from the U.S. Embassy urging U.S.citizens in France to maintain a high level of vigilance, exercise caution at large gatherings and bolster personal security.

Understood. But fear is loud and I brought at least two pairs of earplugs on this adventure.

Welcome to France.

toulouse capitol
The Capitole de Toulouse is lit up in blue, white and red in remembrance of those killed in the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.
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