I came to KSC in the fall of 2006 and graduated in December 2009, studied journalism and moved back to France in early 2010.
Prior to coming to Keene I grew up in Drancy, in the suburbs of paris. To give you some context, Drancy is three miles from the Stadium targeted by the attacks. I currently live in Le Raincy, 12 miles from that same stadium. I also work a quarter of a mile away from the Stadium (the company is within the safety perimeter when there are events there).
Anyway, let’s get to Friday. I left work at 6 p.m., went to the center of Paris to pick up my wife and we headed home. We had the TV turned on to the soccer game all night, not really watching it as we had dinner. I watched it a little bit in the second half but I had no idea what was unfolding until 10:45. My wife Marlee went to let our dog out before going to bed, and I checked Facebook on my phone. That’s when I saw one of our friends in Paris letting her family know she was safe. As I scrolled down, I realized something was wrong. I switched to the news channel and discovered what was happening.
It took me a while to realize what was happening. In fact I stayed up until 1 a.m. watching news and I still didn’t understand the magnitude of the event. At this point it was bad already, with 40-60 casualties reported.
My wife woke me up at 6:30 a.m. when she saw the death toll was 120. We watched the news for a few hours. The main issue at this time was that we still didn’t know how the events had happened, who was responsible and why they had attacked us.
I felt very uneasy about the situation. We tried to go about our normal business, going to get some groceries. Even at the mall, the atmosphere was off. Stores were closed. There were very little people walking around. And those who were there looked uncomfortable. So did I.
I won’t hide it: I cried while writing these few paragraphs. I was hurting deeply. I couldn’t fathom that all this had just happened in places I was familiar with. But writing about it has worked, and I was relieved, and Sunday turned out to be a good day. A sad day because of the freshness, but a lighter one nevertheless.
This morning as I got up, I felt uneasy again. I was wondering what it would be like to go back to work. To drive by that stadium where it has all begun, passing 100 feet from the McDonald’s restaurant where the third bomber had detonated his explosives.
As it turns out, there were no visible signs on what happened, but there was a very distinctive unmistakable smell.
Then, just as I was settling down for my work day came the news that another bomber had been identified. A 28-year-old from Drancy. My hometown. I was in shock. As if this story could not get any closer to my home. Since then, we’ve also learned that the terrorists had rented an apartment in Bobigny, the next town over.
Tonight when I got out of work, I had a little bit of time before picking up Marlee so I decided to go see for myself where the attacks occurred. I stood on the corner in front of the restaurant where 14 people died on Friday. I looked at the flowers, the messages, the wine bottles set on the sidewalk. I read through the messages people had left, most of them by people just like me, who didn’t lose anyone they knew -even though virtually everyone knows someone who knows someone who died Friday.
So I pulled out a pen, scribbled a few sentences on the paper placed over the bullet holes on the wall across the street.
I went there to get closure. Did I get it? I don’t think so. Things are still too fresh. But I got to show that these 129 people didn’t die in vain. That, like thousands of others, we won’t forget them and that we’ll keep on living. Because what else can we do?
Yann Jules can be contatced at Yann.Jules@Gmail.com