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  • hannahlbryans


We met at a bible school in Paris. One we both assumed would be through French as much as it was through English.

For her that meant being able to learn in her mother toungue/her only language. For me that meant that I finally got to learn French in real life context and could graduate from duolingo.

We were both equally shocked when the school was mainly through English.

I was originally disappointed but it didn’t take me long to adjust to the idea of functioning through my mother tongue and I put my desire to learn French on pause.

For her though, it meant suddenly having to acquire a whole new language to be able to function in this group for 6 months.

I felt for her and wondered if she would continue the school.

Around five days into the school she explained to me that it was too hard and she couldn’t do it. In the most broken French I promised to help her with English and improve my French so that she would have someone to talk to. That’s really how our friendship commenced and continued, through long slow conversations in broken French and English.

I was passionate about learning French and Marion reopened that door for me.

In a short space of time she became like an older sister to me.

A sister who checked on me often.

Who could really sense when I wasn't doing well and always reminded me to pick myself up.

She spoke bold words of truth to me when I needed them the most.

There was something about the simplicity of the words we were restricted to that actually played a part in making this connection deeper. Sometimes you can just feel people’s hearts and souls, so much so that there is no need for language.

I have experienced deep connection beyond language a few times since then, And I almost wonder if language can sometimes restrict and distract from knowing the deepest essence of a person. If sometimes we fluff things up with too many words. A lot can be revealed about people by what words they choose. And when their words are restricted, by the efforts that they will go to for communication and connection.

I say this from the perspective of a feeler. I often feel the warmth or lack thereof from people. And maybe a lack of verbal communication heightens this feeler sense. Maybe it leaves no room for certain miscommunications and misunderstandings. For when you first and foremost feel the raw essence of a person, it’s easier to assume the best of them. And when you’re aware of your lack of understanding/cultural gap, you’re aware of the likelihood of miscommunications and therefore make bigger efforts to close the gap.

I think that when we assume that we understand people, we’re most likely incorrect, and in that assumption we are closing the door to really getting to know them.

I think that staying curious about people is vital, familiarity does indeed breeds contempt.

Knowing Marion made me begin to consider the concept of “language beyond words”.

As we talked more and more, her English and my French simultaneously improved. Our language improved to the point that we could talk in depth and share things that we couldn’t have imagined to be able to just months previously.

I realised that despite vocabulary expansion, she was still very selective with words.

I began to understand that this limiting of wordcount wasn’t simply a language barrier thing, but a French thing too.

Marion gave me somewhat of an initiation into the culture. She embodies french directness and honesty. This directness is one of the things I appreciate a lot about her. For she doesn’t say things unnecessarily. She is someone who is straight to the point, saying what she means and meaning what she says.

A week into knowing Marion, I lost my brother and it was her comfort that meant the world to me. She sat by my side and said “I am staying with you. You can cry, we can talk, we don’t have to talk, but I'm staying by your side.”

And that she did. She didn't leave my side until I flew home the next morning back to Ireland.

When she told me “I love you” it hit different from other “I love you’s” that people dish out easily and regularly. I knew that she meant it from her core.

Marion shared french music with me and taught me french slang. Like I said, she introduced me to French culture.

Little did I know at that point that I would come back to Paris often and eventually move here.

I was in Lebanon when she sent me photos of her engagement and I screamed with excitement.

It was from Lebanon that I flew back to Paris for her wedding months later.

The wedding day was absolutely stunning. It exhibited a warm pure selfless love that radiated through the crowd and filled me up.

She was marrying the love of her life and was so happy. I felt so proud, like she was really my big sister. She was radiating joy and was ridiculously intentional with every wedding guest. She was literally gliding through the day with zero bride stress and a constant smile on her face.

I write this simply to describe her for I didn’t expect anything different, that's who she is in general.

Marion is deeply intentional and passionate about people.

I recently went to her house for brunch and took my camera because I couldn't not include her in this series.

Her person and intentionality impacts me and has helped to shape me.

She embodies love and is a light in people's lives.


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