France is a special place for me.
When I was a senior in high school, I spent some time in France as an exchange student. Half of that time was in Lyon, and half was in Paris.
Watching the news break on Friday night was heartbreaking. Having lived through the Boston marathon bombings, I could understand a bit of the fear and panic the people of France, and Paris especially, were feeling - not knowing what was going on, unsure if the attacks were over or just beginning, trying to remember the last time you'd heard from all your friends and family members and wondering if anyone was hurt or worse. Watching the streets fill with police as barriers are set up, transportation is cut off, and curfews are enforced.
This is just the beginning. There are investigations to be completed (with one of the largest crime scenes law enforcement has seen), questions to be answered, a lot of healing to go through.
It's going to be a long road. It's still going to hurt and be scary and confusing long after the news crews have packed up and gone home. Long after the focus has been shifted to another tragedy or war or celebrity wedding.
I'm praying for France, for Paris, for everyone who's been affected by this. But tonight, I'm especially praying for my French exchange family. Although I've lost touch with them over the years, there was a time when they were my surrogate family in a foreign country. They opened their doors to me and let me live with them. Then I was able to do the same for their youngest daughter, who stayed with us in Vermont. I'm praying that they're doing okay, and that they and their families are safe tonight.
Vive la France.