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Nothing Lasts Forever

How I Was One of the Last to See Notre Dame Cathedral

While I tend to want to keep my blog posts less personal, here is one where I learned a valuable lesson that impacts all of us, so pardon the personal nature of this post.

I turned 50 this April, and I had decided to celebrate my 50th birthday running the Paris Marathon. There’s more to that story that I may share in the future. The day after the marathon, around 4:00 pm I went to the Cathedral of Notre Dame and went up to the tower. You can see from the photos that there is scaffolding around the tower and that restoration work was being done on the tower. Incidentally, we were the second to last group to visit the tower.

A few hours later I was on a boat cruise on the Seine River and here is a photo what we came across. The Norte Dame Cathedral was in flames. It was surreal that just a few hours earlier I was inside that magnificent cathedral. Some officials called for using water tankers to be used to burn out the flames. When I saw the flames, I was wondering why the firefighters appeared to be letting the cathedral burn. However, the Paris fire department knew from experience to let the fire burn as the water does more damage than the actual fire. Thus, by knowing in advance the best practices, the cathedral can be restored and open to the public in three years.

The lesson to glean from this is that loss is inevitable. Even a global monument like the Cathedral of Notre Dame can potentially be lost to natural disaster. However, with advanced planning, even when the worst happens, we can prevent further damage.

Family values operate in much the same way. They are timeless as are the relationships formed as a result of those values. However, tragedy often strikes in different forms - untimely death, unexpected disability, divorce, etc. By having a legal framework in place as well as understanding the best practices, those tragedies need not undermine the core of the family. The family members are in a position, like fire fighters in Paris, to make important decisions in a crises. By understanding the impact of decisions in advance and knowing best practices, then the family is in a much better position to overcome the loss with its core values and relationships intact.

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