I have Paris on my mind. I often do. It is a city that holds my heart in its beautifully crafted Belle Epoque arms. A place when I was a child I never thought I'd visit and I have been lucky enough to do so several times. Today, I watched alongside millions as the heart of that city, the heart of my heart, burned. I don't remember when I fell in love with Paris. I was very young, I do know that for certain. It was some story I had read; that feels right. So many fairy tales and films and art took place in Paris and something in my soul stirred at the very mention of its name. I fell hard for it as one does. I needed to go there and see it for myself. It became a massive dream I thought about almost every day. I imagined how I would spend my days and what I would eat, where I would walk, what I would see. I could picture it so clearly, it always felt real; as if I had been there before. Somewhere deep down, I truly believe I had.The first time I came to Paris, I was in college. I was studying abroad in London and I planned a trip with a few other students. It ended up being far more than a few in the end but it was Paris and no one could resist. I had my list and Notre Dame was at the top right above the Eiffel Tower. Those were the two places I had to see. The two places I dreamed of the most.I remember walking up to Notre Dame and being swallowed by its vastness. It was one of the largest structures I had ever seen. This was my first trip abroad and it was the oldest architecture I had ever witnessed aside from what I had just seen in London. It was magical and incredible and beautiful. It did not seem possible to exist in a way. How did someone create this out of thin air? I walked around the outside, staring endlessly at the impossible detail and design. When I stepped inside, I remember gasping, actually gasping, as my breath was taken away for the first time that I can remember. The windows are...were...remarkable. The light that comes through them is indescribable. I mean that. I don't think any words I could think of or even look up could let anyone who hasn't seen it, standing there in awe of it all, know what it is like. I've never felt so small and yet so fortunate and special at the same time.That's the rub, isn't it? That is what I cried for hours over. Not only losing a piece of myself and something I loved so terribly but the fact that someone who had that same dream will not come upon it the way I did. They will see Notre Dame weakened and dark. This impossible creation lost to flames. A Lady who survived almost a century only to be burned within hours. She saw everything: wars, destruction, every period Paris experienced, life, death, culture, tourists. She was painted by the most renowned artists and studied by genius minds. She is a marvel to behold.And she will rise again.Notre Dame is loved by those who have seen her and those who haven't. She is someone's dream across the globe who has envisioned themselves walking Paris in the rain. Strolling the Seine, finding the perfect dry champagne and block of cheese. What will they come across when they finally step into that courtyard to stare up at her tremendous facade? Deep inside myself, I know it will always be a sight to behold, even burned, she will take breath from those who seek her out. I have to believe that because the opposite, the idea that she is devastated beyond repair, is too much for me to grasp.It is unfathomable what happened today. This is a structure that was meant to last forever. That I dreamed of seeing again. I never climbed to the top. I made excuses my three trips. The line was too long, it cost more to go up the steps, I didn't have time. I wanted the shot with the gargoyle everyone has but I wanted to take it for myself. But I never did. I took it for granted and thought "There's always next time."I spoke with many friends today, some of whom I've gone to Paris with, a few who know how much I love it, and those who reached out for comfort knowing they did not get to see it how it was. They also postponed their trips or picked another vacation, another destination; Paris is always there. But now its crown jewel is not. Its heart is broken and smoking and I have to think out of all the horror we saw today, that may be a lesson. Our history is destructible. Even a building that was built for worship, cared for endlessly and lasted for 850 years can be gone in a moment.What I will remember always about Notre Dame was how safe I felt. I recalled Quasimodo calling for sanctuary and I truly understood it in that moment, in that very place. It was a sanctuary. There are few places I've felt more safe and welcomed and comforted than underneath those rose windows.Paris somehow became a part of me. But then again, I think it always was. I walked those streets as if I had been there thousands of times. It was familiar, intimate, safe. It's my sanctuary.Notre Dame will always be there for those who seek it. She will live on. Her light will never truly go out. What happened today was excruciating to witness. My entire being and all my love goes to the people of Paris, of France, to anyone who dreams of Notre Dame and going there and those of us who have and now treasure it even more.It is strange how vivid some memories are and how some fade. My memories of Paris never do. Not the scent, not the sights, nor sounds. It is all there and I can travel there in my head whenever I want because of it. I'll dream of Our Lady of Paris tonight. The mutual pain the world shared watching her suffer today was powerful even though it pained us to witness it. It will heal her. Notre Dame is a structure that brings us all together. It belonged to us all whether you were religious or not. It is ours. She has taken care of us for so many years, it is time we take care of her.