Paris. Paris means so much to so many people. I love Paris.
Chances are you love Paris too, even if you have never been there. You might love Paris in the movies, you might love Paris for all that it has given the world, the culture, the celebration of life. The first time I went to Paris in my early 20s, I remember riding the Metro through the city and feeling a kind of joy that only can be described as Christmas morning. I had studied French in high school, minored in college, read everything I could but to see it, feel it, smell it, is different. Since that first visit, I knew that I needed Paris and indeed, France in my life. I purposefully steered my career in a direction that would bring me to Paris again, and again.
As a PR person, I worked in beauty, luxury, fashion for the past 25 years and, all of these worlds are impossible to live in without Paris. I was able to see and learn about the Parisian way of life, the art of culture, fashion, perfumery, food. I made wonderful friends, life long friends that I hold dear in my heart who live there now.
But it was in 2008, I took a month long trip to Paris and the South of France with my three young children that changed my life. I journaled my experiences during that trip. I read and reread those pages, whenever I am overwhelmed with challenges, whenever I feel like I have lost my way and need to be centered again. I've written several chapters of my book about this journey that I hope one day to publish.
It was April, 2008, my first son Zachary had just underwent the first of two transplant surgeries in Toronto, Canada. The first transplant surgery lasted 10 long hours, and the surgeon took a muscle from his leg, and transplanted it to his face to enable him to smile, eat better, speak better, have movement in his face. There was no guarantee that first surgery would work, we were taking big risks. Risks so big that it had caused a lot of friction between my husband and I. I thought what if it doesn't work, what will we do. Mat thought if we do nothing, what will our son, our children do? Zack was eight years old, Luke was six, Del (Griffin was five), this surgery wasn't just about Zack, it was about our whole family, the rest of our life, their life.
My husband and I waited nervously in the waiting room for the surgeon to come out and update us four hours into the surgery. When he came out to meet with us, he told us they successfully harvested the muscle and were beginning the connection of nerves, veins and implanting. We asked nervously about my son's face, what he learned from surgery that no MRI could tell us. Zack, had little to no muscle tone in his face, a condition called facial paralysis, and for eight years no one could ever tell us why. "Do any of his nerves work, are there muscles in his face?" No muscles work, some nerves. "What do you mean no muscles work? Like three or four?" No. I mean like 15 to 20, he either has no muscles where there should be, or they don't work.
Silence. Shock. Painful ear infections, drooling, endless colds and illnesses, dry eyes. Years of questions with no answers now made sense. He returned to the operating room. We went to the cafeteria and sat at a back table. Like so many hospital families, I sat and cried quietly, like I couldn't breath. Eight years of sorrow echoing in my head.
Before all this happened, I used to talk about wanting to move to Paris, wanting to live in France at some point in my life for a year or two. Mat looked at me and said, "why don't you take the boys to Paris and France for a month this summer and I will come for two weeks, get away Lisa and relax."
That's how much Paris means to me, that at a time of one of our greatest challenges, Mat knew that Paris and France was probably one of the only ways to bring us together.
And so we went. And what happened there, changed me forever. Je t'aime Paris. I will write again later. Maybe finally, I will write my book now. No one can take Paris from us. No one can take the international symbol of love and romance and joy and innovation. If people want to bring the fight to the world. They have done it. The world will not lay down for this. Paris is the world. I will write it in real time. A bientot.