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Lions Roar : May 2013
down and with a hunched shuffle crossed under the railing but Linda stood there frozen, torn between her fear of heights and the desire to be with our group. The French teenagers began a raucous version of the French national anthem. The baby’s piercing wails quieted to indignant whim- pers. Linda took a deep breath, threw her purse and her jacket to her new husband, then in one graceful move swung under the bar like a fearless child on the play- ground. We reached out and caught her, pulling her toward us. Exhausted and parched but all together and smiling, we arrived at the top of the tower at half-past midnight. Paris, cool and lovely in the dark gray night, sparkled below us. In between yawns, we oohed and aahed and took pictures. We peered down at the plaza, now nearly empty, the ticket booth and snack bar shuttered for the night. Luna took a last picture of her- self and Linda, arms raised in triumph, just a couple of feet from the edge. And then we said good-bye to our new friends, exchanging numbers, heartfelt hugs, and sincere wishes for each other’s health and happiness. The triumph of our successful ascent gave Luna and Plum a last injection of energy, and they skipped and sang the whole long way back down to the ground. I am often tempted to offer my kids the comfort of illusions—the lightness and sparkle of a Parisian tower, the reassur- ance that if they want, they can become astronauts and travel to the moon. But the tower is made of cold solid metal and takes hours to climb. The surface of the moon is pocked and airless and their astronaut selection unlikely. Instead, I can offer them the reminder that while life is difficult and lines are long, we are buoyed by openness to other human beings. There is a gift in the unexpected gracefulness of a former stranger turned friend, an older woman acknowledging her fear and swinging with abandon into our waiting arms. It was past 1:30 in the morning when we finally returned to our French flat and collapsed on our little mattresses. “What did you think, Luna?” I whispered to her, as I gratefully turned toward sleep. “It was perfect,” she said. o SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 32