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When I logged onto Twitter and saw the Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze, things really came to a head. Something about that beautiful building burning just really hit me. I am not okay.

It’s been a few rough weeks. It feels like I’ve been powering through a lot of negativity and high-energy days with no relief in sight. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? When day after day, you tell yourself, “Just make it through today,” only to realize that the next day is just as brutal.

This is compounded by the daily news and current events, which feel like a speeding train heading for an existing train wreck. I want to be engaged and vigilant, to keep up with everything that’s happening, but it feels like things that matter to me are just going up in flames. I feel helpless. It makes me want to crawl into my ignorance cocoon and come out when the coast is clear.

At this point, I’m still processing the news about the Notre Dame.

And all I can think about is how the city of Paris, home to my favorite bookstore and warm, anxiety-free summer nights, is losing one of its most iconic buildings. But I’m also ridden with guilt that something like this is making my anxiety flare up instead of the hordes of injustices that occur every day.

I’m not even religious at this point, but the symbolism is still haunting. Notre Dame is a symbol for a the art, history, religion, and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. And all we can do is watch as it burns and crumbles right before our eyes.

I feel kind of silly, to be honest. Because I just assumed that an iconic piece of architecture like the Notre Dame, which has been standing since for seven centuries, would always be there. That it was indestructible, unflappable, permanent.

Here I am, feeling precarious, looking for stability, and watching the Notre Dame fall down.

So the question then becomes: When tragedies like this happen, how do we come back from them? How do we mourn? Do we ignore what happened?

More importantly, how do we gain the energy to spring back to life and continue our existence? How do we try to move on while still holding on to what we value from the past?

Especially something like the Notre Dame, which has brought so many people together for centuries. It’s going to be a slow and long restoration process; we’re not going to turn around and have it fixed tomorrow.

Sprung is a state of knowing we should be moving on after a tremendous loss, but not quite being ready to let go. The idea of turning to something new is scary, even if we know it’s necessary.

So, right now, maybe I’m not okay. Maybe I’m still dealing with tragedy and hardship in the present tense. Maybe I still need, maybe the world still needs, the chance to grieve before moving on.

Jessica Lulka

Jess Lulka is a Boston-based creative. When she's not writing or editing, you'll find her at any bookstore, art museum, or looking at cat pictures.

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