I met our great friends Audrey and Bob too many years ago to count, in Charleston. They are among my favorite people. When life took them to Ohio, we stayed in touch, and I had the privilege of seeing their two beautiful blond-haired boys grow up, since they vacationed in Charleston every year.
We moved to France and their kids, as kids are wont to do, kept growing. A few years back Audrey brought her youngest, Colton, to Burgundy with her. Eighteen already! Colton was tall and elegant, and taking a year off after high school to live with a French family in Paris. That’s common in college with a group, but alone, right after high school? I thought he was terribly brave. But he spoke beautiful French, and wanted to be a fashion designer—and what better city for a gap year, with such aspirations? His exciting future lay before him.
Fast forward a few years, and Colton was at University in New York. Now fluent in French, happy at University, and installed in his own apartment. Then one day, his frequent texts to his family suddenly stopped, his bank account went quiet. Something was horribly wrong.
A few frantic calls later, friends went to look for him at his apartment, and found Colton dead, lying in his bed. Cause of death, unknown. “We will never know why,” the doctor said. “Sometimes life just stops.”
How does a parent cope, when you didn’t know that the last conversation you had with your healthy, happy, child would be your last conversation? This is beyond my imagination. My sadness for their family is bottomless. Darling Colton, you have left us way too soon.
Instead of a funeral, Audrey and Bob decided on a memorial service a bit later on, to celebrate Colton’s beautiful life. For the service, Audrey asked me to contribute some quotes in French as a way of remembering his extraordinary year in Paris, and of capturing his joie de vivre. I will share them with you today, in his memory, in hopes that they will provoke an inspiration, a smile, un souvenir. Colton would want it that way.
La vie ce n’est pas d’attendre que les orages passent, c’est d’apprendre à danser sous la pluie.—Sénèque
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
La vie est faite de petits bonheurs.--Ibsen
Life is made of small pleasures.
J’entends ta voix dans les bruits du monde.—Paul Eluard
I hear your voice amid the noise of the world.
On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.—from The Little Prince
One only sees well with the heart. The essential things are invisible to the eyes.
La vie est un naufrage,mais nous ne devons pas oublier de chanter dans les canots de sauvetage. --Voltaire
“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
Il y a des fleurs partout, pour qui veut bien les voir.—Matisse
There are flowers everywhere, for those who want to see them.
Le bonheur est souvent la seule chose qu'on puisse donner sans l'avoir et c'est en le donnant qu'on l'acquiert.--Voltaire
Happiness is often the only thing that one can give without having, and it is in giving it that one acquires it.
La vie est belle, malgré les épreuves et les chagrins. Vivons pleinement chaque instant.
Life is beautiful, in spite of its trials and grief. Live fully every moment.
Le rire, c’est le soleil, il chasse l’hiver du visage humain.—Victor Hugo.
Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.
Paris est toujours une bonne idée.
Paris is always a good idea.--Audrey Hepburn in "Sabrina"
In Memorium: Colton Hudson, 1993-2016
In the COMMENTS: Debbie says, "We cook more than food in our French kitchens, right?" Absolument! Suzanne, most French kitchens have dishwashers, even in the old ones they've managed to tuck one in somewhere. Garbage disposals, though, are virtually unknown. Gwyneth, you're right, it doesn't take a big kitchen to turn out a fine meal (check out Gwyneth's fun French travel blog at Chez-Perrier.). Bonnie in Provence, your French view of your kitchen reminds me of a comment my French friend Monique made this week: "for the French, a kitchen is not a gathering place, it is a lab." JoEllen, love your mélange kitchen! Julie, I would love to see your kitchen. Ellen, your comment says it all, when it comes to real French kitchens.
Want to see our neighborhood? Here is a brief video called Entre Saône et Grosne (Between the Saône and the Grosne rivers), which was filmed right in our neighborhood. Every church and château here will be familiar to all our friends. And it starts off with a little tour of Chateau de Balleure! So if you want to see great aerial views of the château we lived in for three years, check it out.