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From Ellen -- Thank you all

Posted by ellen w on 9/18/01 at 10:39 (060844)

I started this yesterday, and finished this morning. It is long but I thought you might all be interested. I do not mean this to stir up new conflicts or emotions, and have not included any perspective on this event. It is simply my eyewitness testimony.

ellen

9/17/01

Dear friends,

I would like to thank all of you for your concern. Please know that your support over the last year has meant a lot, but that I am especially touched by the concern that many of you have voiced for my safety in the last few days.

I have not been out of touch by choice. I have not been able to access the internet until today, when I returned to work. I tried to send a message out on Saturday morning, after staying up till 4:00 am madly scribbling away, but it seems not to have exited my friend's computer. So I will try to recreate what I wrote, detailing what I experienced. I know that by now all of you have read the stories of loss and tragedy, of grief and heroism. What I have been through in the last week does not compare to what so many suffered and continue to suffer. And I am very lucky - I am not physically injured and have not lost a family member or close friend. I am still numb, still jump at the slightest sound, still crying on and off.

On Tuesday morning I was at home because of a physical therapy session scheduled for 9:40 am. My therapist's office is steps from the World Trade Center, and I live only 8 blocks away. My apartment is on the 31st floor of my building. My windows look west, toward the river, but I have a view of the towers if I put my head against the window and crick my neck.

I was sitting at my window, finishing a coffee and roll, passing time until it would be time to leave for my appointment. If it had been scheduled for 8:30 or 9:00 am - the times I had requested - I would have been at what is now called ground zero at the exact time of the attack.

I heard a huge sound - one that's hard to describe, and one that I will never forget. At first I thought it had to be a sonic boom, and thought, 'Damn. What idiot plane did that. Someone is going to have to complain to the military about this. They can't do this in Downtown Manhattan!' Then I noticed people on the sidewalk looking south, towards the trade towers, and then on the tv came news reporting an incident there.

When I looked out towards the towers, I saw huge billows of smoke and red flames pouring out the building. There was a huge gash that extended in a jagged pattern across numerous floors. On the tv, you have seen shots of smoke billowing out. From my vantage point, I could see the red embers of flames spreading throughout the interior, across the floors and up.

I decided that I should call my therapist's office, and while I was on the phone - they said they knew what was happening, they were evacuating the building, that mine was the last call they were taking - the second plane hit. I was therefore spared seeing directly that horror, though I have seen and reseen it on the news. It was immediately clear that this was no accident, that it was deliberate. I stood and watched both towers burning, not knowing what to do. And then went downstairs, feeling the need to be with people, and walked to the corner of my block, from which there is a clear unobstructed view of the towers.

Debris was falling off both towers in every direction. Little diamonds of glass, sparkling in the sun. Large and small chunks of debris peeling off the building, some that fell slowly, wafting on the wind, some that fell fast and straight down. I tell myself that I did not see bodies falling, but I don't know. I did see people on the upper floors, above the fire line, at the windows, waving curtains and tablecloths out broken windows to let rescuers know that they were there and still alive. I heard soft whfmmps, the type of sounds that a gas stove makes when you turn it on and it ignites. The only other sound I remember hearing is sirens coming from everywhere. All other street noise stopped. The inside of both buildings - and it seemed like I could see inside across entire floors - looked like a charcoal fire, dark black punctuated by glowing threads of red, then bursts of flame. About 20 of us were at this corner, too shocked to talk. Just gazing, staring. Hoping that there would be a rescue. We thought that everyone below where the fire was spreading would get out ok. The buildings, both of them, looked solid, thoroughly solid. I wondered how they would be repaired. It was impossible to think that they could be, and at the same time that they would not be.

Already there were policemen at every corner, not letting anyone closer. At this point, a herd of people came running down Church Avenue. Then a policeman came over and said we couldn't stay there, everyone had to run north. I was afraid of being trampled, of not being able to get back home, so I went back to my building instead. Outside my building there were many of my neighbors. All of us were in shock. Some people were crying. Others were talking about the need to run for safety, but the question was where. A few individuals took off on roller blades. Others just stood and hugged each other. People were asking were people they knew were -- have you seen John? Where's Angie? A father came running towards us, frantically searching for his infant daughter. She wasn't at the daycare center, not in his apartment. He found her, safe, in the lobby with the family babysitter, who had gotten there first. A tourist from Spain staying in the building said he had been closer, saw an engine in the street, that you could go right up to it. That people's shoes were lying about. That there were body parts. We listened.. And we didn't know what to do. Didn't know if the decision we made at this moment to stay or to leave would be the difference between life and death. We didn't know if uptown was also being attacked. Didn't know if other bombs would be directed at us - the Federal Building is right at my other corner, the AT&T switching station behind us. I stayed. My building felt safe, and it is right across the street from a fire station.

After a time, I decided to go back upstairs to my apartment, where I could see what was happening. I also decided to call my office, to let them know I would not be coming in to work. It was while I was on this mundane of all mundane calls that the first tower came down. I saw it begin to crumble, from the top, like a giant hand had plunged into a sandcastle and squeeze, and a grey mass, the pointed tower on top still intact, hurtling straight down. I knew I had to get out of there, had to get down to ground level in case my building was going to be hit. I threw the phone down and ran to the door, and down the stairwell, down 31 flights, knowing that it would be unsafe to take the elevator. I felt fortunate that there were not a lot of people coming down the stairs. What few there were were able to pass me, and I didn't hinder anyone's progress. I am also fortunate that I am far along in my healing stage and was able to move relatively quickly. As I was moving down, I heard loud slamming noises riccocheting throughout the stairwell. Didn't know what they were, if it was wreckage hitting my building or just doors slamming slamming slamming as people were running out.

When I reached the lobby, my building was safe. There was no debris hitting us. The doormen were herding everyone to the back of the lobby, near the entrance to the garage, in case it would be necessary to get underground. We sat there, about 20 of us, just dazed, except for a few very young children who were playing with each other and had no idea what was going on. People were trying to make calls on their cell phones, and couldn't get through. What most of us said, over, and over, was that we couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe that big beautiful building was gone. Just gone. And then we heard another rumble. I didn't hear the first rumble, because of my flight down the stairs. This one I heard, deep, loud, long. We didn't have to see it, didn't have to be told. We knew the second building had gone. And no one said anything.

I waited about half an hour. There were no more rumbles. I went back up to my apartment. There was dense smoke rising everywhere, big dark clouds rising. I packed a bag in case it would be necessary to leave. Making decisions. What did I want to save? I put my grandmother's wedding ring and a delicate cameo brooch an uncle had brought back from Italy in World War II in my waist pack. I knew my pictures could be replaced, my brothers and sisters would be able to give me copies. Scooped up financial papers. Made sure I had my ATM card and identification. What would I need for survival? Change of clothes. Can of tuna fish. Jacket. Filled my camelback hydration backpack with water, as well as several bottles and pans and the bathtub. Notepad and pen to leave messages. Swimming goggles for eye protection. My snorkling mouthpiece to breath out of (ok that was a little extreme, but I was trying to cover all the bases), a scarf to wet down and cover my face. Flashlight. Walkman. Last I packed the two tools I had at home from my volunteer activities at the South Street Seaport, my yachtsman knife and my mariner's marlin spike, in case I would have to break a window or cut my way out of someplace. I rued the fact that my other tools, including a particulate mask and safety goggles, were on the boat.

Then I sat and watched. Kept going to the window and back to the tv. Heard another deep rumble. It was building # 7. I couldn't see it fall, but watched a big cloud of dust rushing down the street, but far enough away that I didn't feel in danger. Then the electricity went off, and with it, phone service. A little while later the water gave out. There was light inside my apartment, from the windows, but none in the hallway. I now know the meaning of the term pitch black, you could not see at all. I put the boom box my brother had given me for Christmas in the hallway, thankful I had put batteries in it. The sound brought other people out of their apartments. Besides myself, there were three other apartments occupied. One was a corporate apartment, in which tenants would stay anywhere from a few days to a few months. The current occupant, Eric, had flown in from London two days before to look for housing. It would not be downtown, and not in a high rise, he assured me. In the apartment to my left was a couple who had moved in just last weekend. Welcome to the neighborhood! The other tenant was lobotomy boy, the neighbor who has been driving me crazy with his stereo. We all agreed that we would tell each other if we decided to leave, so that we could all make the choice of to stay or go, and we would know to let the doorman know who was still on the floor. I heard sounds in the stairwell. Two firemen, in all their equipment, came up the stairs, panting from the exertion of having climbed 31 flights. They had heard my radio, so knew that people were on this floor. Told us that a fire had been reported in my building; they were walking up to the 52nd floor to check it out. On their way down, they told us there was no problem, that we were probably safer staying where we were than leaving. I felt terrible that in the midst of the carnage outside, these two men had had to waste time on a false report, but their visit also added to the uncertainty. Lobotomy boy decided to leave. The rest of us stayed.

About 11:00 at night the emergency lights in the hallway dimmed and then went out. I brought my radio into my apartment so my neighbors could sleep. I stayed up, watching. You could see clouds of smoke still rising, mostly white, punctuated by dark plumes, barely discernable against the night sky. I decided which building would be the signal to leave if it started to burn. It was completely dark on the street, no street lights, no buildings lit except for 60 Hudson Street, where the NYC Department of Buildings is located, and where many dot com companies have offices and equipment, including generators. On the street below I could see red emergency lights everywhere, reflecting off of dark buildings. Cavalcades of passing cars with blue lights flashing, officials on their way to the Federal Building. Bull dozers and heavy equipment rumbled through the street all night. I fell asleep about 4 am, with my clothes on, my keys in my pocket, my escape gear at the front door.

On Wednesday, I stayed in my apartment. I was afraid that if I left, I would not physically be able to climb back up. I cleaned. I read. I watched the smoke rise. A few people ventured downstairs and back up. I'd left my door open, so there would be light in the hallway. A number of people I'd never met before stopped in for water and to rest and talk. No one really had news of what was going on, and no one knew how to help. No one was allowed further south. The fire house had said there was nothing to be done by nonprofessionals. My radio was no longer working, so there was no communication about what was going on outside. I was in an insulated and isolated cocoon. Most everyone in America by this time had seen the images of people stampeding, of rescue efforts, of horror. Not me. I think in retrospect this may have been good, psychologically protective but it also made things even more numbing later on.

Everything outside my window was grey, clear out to the Hudson River. Normally, the rooftops in my neighborhood are punctuated by gardens, pleasant oases of trees and bushes and flowers. This day there grey as far as the eye could see. No color except -- on one lone rooftop someone had raised an American flag and it waved slowly in the wind.

Late in the day a butterfly flew past my window. A monarch, black and orange. Birds rarely fly high enough to be seen outside my window, a butterfly, never. Then I saw what had chased it - a dark cloud moving north, the first time the wind had blown in my direction. The air did not turn black, but a kind of sooty yellow, and the smell of smoke was growing, and was strongest in the hallway. There was no sure way to know if it was coming from outside or inside, and with the emergency lights down and no water, it had become too scary to stay in my home. I left about 5pm, with Eric from London. We tried to walk down Church Avenue, and found it too crammed with emergency and military vehicles. We crossed back to Broadway and headed out. As we walked out of the neighborhood, past guards at every corner, past cars and streets covered with soot, emergency vehicles came rushing down Broadway. We were told another building had collapsed. This turned out not to be true, but at the time, it heightened the sense of urgency. We walked through the eerily deserted streets of Soho, looking for a working subway. Finally at Lafayette Street, we found an open station, going uptown. I got off at Union Square, Eric continuing uptown. I felt dazed. Uncomprehending. Walked up the stairs into the sunshine and saw people playing with their dogs in the park, sitting on the lawn reading newspapers. And there was green grass. That's what struck me the hardest. Green grass. I started to cry, the first time I had done so. Not the last.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Carmel M on 9/18/01 at 11:28 (060847)

Ellen,
Thank you for your post...and letting us know you are safe.

I cannot imagine being there to witness the destruction first hand but have seen enough on tv to know it must have been just horrifying. You are very brave, I think I might have panicked just a little.

I have done my share of crying over the loss of lives, loss of security and trust and loss of wholeness...I feel as if they have taken something from us, but I cannot find the right words to describe what that something is.

The green grass at the end of your post got me crying again too. That is what is hardest for me...continuing on with my 'normal' life when I know that many, many are not able to do that. I somehow feel bad for doing that. But I do have to go on with my life for my sake and the sake of my family, but I do so with a prayer for those suffering through all this.

Carmel

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Laurie R on 9/18/01 at 11:50 (060848)

Dear Ellen , I don't even know what to say ..... My heart goes out to you and to everyone .. We all have and will pray for you ... You are in our hearts . Thank you for you story , Like I said I am at a lost for words right now ..... Bless you ..... Laurie R

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

JudyS on 9/18/01 at 13:31 (060856)

Ellen, I thought my own crying had perhaps come to an end. But I was wrong. You have 'brought it home' for us here, and for that I can't thank you enough. I can only imagine how it is for you today to relive your memories of this horror.
We thank the Lord that you are safe, and we pray for your neighborhoods.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

wendyn on 9/18/01 at 13:32 (060857)

Thank you Ellen.

I am glad that others here are more on top of things than I am...I did not realize where you lived until others pointed it out.

I decided to stay in for lunch and read your post.

I will print it off and hang it by my desk. It is a perspective we have not heard before, and one I thing people need to realize.

Re: thank you ellen

CArmen H on 9/18/01 at 13:35 (060858)

thank you for sharing Ellen...we are so glad you are safe.....
take your time getting back to us. We'll be here.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Suzanne D on 9/18/01 at 14:48 (060871)

Ellen, you and I have never spoken or written to one another; I am relatively new here. But I have been concerned for you, reading the posts in the past few days of those who were asking about your safety. I am sorry for your trials and am praying for you. I read of your experience last week, and I am sorry for what you had to go through.

God be with you!

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Steve P on 9/18/01 at 15:46 (060876)

Ellen -- What an extraordinary experience. Thanks for taking the time to recount it so vividly & articulately. I have just read it twice and I know I will again.

In Maryland we lost a number of people, including 2 flight attendants on the plane that hit the Pentagon. There were many Marylanders among the Pentagon staff & some on the flight too.

Never before in my 51 years have I been in tears over a news event. But it happens to me now every day, usually for a little while in the morning when I'm home alone. Then I go out for the rest of the day & am around people & am OK.

I can't imagine what it must have been like to have seen what you did first hand. Thanks again for your account.

All the best to you Ellen...........Steve

Re: May God be with u our friend

Tammie on 9/18/01 at 15:48 (060878)

Our dear friend,
We were so saddened by the tragedy and horror of what happend a week a go today! It has affected so very many in this world we live in. We prayed for your saftey and the saftey of your family and many others we are happy God spared you to finish your work , what ever it may be. I hope that he will continue to help those in need and thru the suffering of burrying there dead . And to the people who must now live with this fear and terror and tragedy for the rest of there days. May he see the suffering and hear the cries and give us the ways and means to rebuild and continue our lives, that will be so very hard for so many and my hopes and thoughts and prayers go to you and the rest of the city of New York! I am so very glad you are safe and wish you well thru your grieving and healing . May God be with u today and always and keep you safe and help heal your grief. Love to u and some big hugggggggggggggggggggssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Re: May God be with u our friend

Donna M on 9/18/01 at 16:20 (060882)

Ellen, we all are so thankful that you made it through that!
I thought I had cried about my limit, but reading your description of all that happened and how I know you must have felt, just tears at my heart.
I know you will never get over the trauma of this, which is very understandable, but just feel assured that we are all here for you, at anytime you need us!
Take Care, Donna

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

PatC on 9/18/01 at 17:14 (060889)

I am new to this board and don't know you, but like all the others was touched by your description of the devastation. Thank god you are safe.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

nancy s. on 9/18/01 at 18:13 (060894)

ellen, your story is riveting and poignant. everyone is crying with you, and you're not alone. i know it will be some time before you feel grounded again, but i, like everyone else, am glad you're safe. welcome back.
nancy

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

john h on 9/18/01 at 18:38 (060900)

i cannot add to what has already been said ellen. A lot of people were really worried about you.

Re: Ellen

Necee on 9/19/01 at 00:13 (060912)

Ellen,
How good to hear that your ok, as tragic as this is, I'm just so very thankful that you are alright. I had tried to contact you, and also sent out emails hoping that I had the right Ellen, but unfortunately it wasn't you. Thank you for remembering us here and for letting us know how you are.

Since you are right there, and have a better perspective on things, I've been wanting to help, maybe sending money or supplies. Can you give me any suggestions as to who might need help. I watch the news reports and know that the police and firefighters have plenty of supplies and food, but what about the outlying areas? If you can provide some ideas I sure would appreciate it. Your fellow American in Texas feels so helpless.

Ellen, if you feel the need to vent your feelings, anger or otherwise, please do so, I can't be there with you in person but I hope you find comfort in knowing that I continue to think about you daily and remember you in my prayers. It's going to be a long hard road back to 'Normal Life USA' but you will succeede.

United we Stand!
Necee

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Julie on 9/19/01 at 01:49 (060916)

Dear Ellen

Thank you, thank you for writing this. I've printed it and read it many times since yesterday, and my heart goes out to you in comradeship. You were so close. I knew more or less where you live, but didn't realize you were that close - and you were so lucky you couldn't get the appointment you wanted! I am so relieved and glad that you are safe and well.

Please take good care of yourself now: it will take a while for the shock you've had - and it's a shock to the whole system - to recede, and for you to heal. Sometimes in such situations (not that there has ever been any 'such situation') we get impatient with ourselves, thinking we ought to have 'got back to normal' by now. I have seen this so often in people who have been very ill, or been through any real crisis. Please don't pressure yourself: give yourself all the time you need, however much it takes.

I'm glad for myself that you wrote about your experience. I have felt very isolated since last Tuesday - American, a New Yorker, but not physically there, though my whole heart and mind have been there, longing to reach out and get closer to my city, my people. I haven't succeeded. But what you've written has helped me with that, probably quite a lot, so, thank you.

I also want to say that it's one of the best pieces of writing I have read for a very long time! (and there have been many, many good ones in the papers all week). So quiet, understated and precise, every word counting, not a word wasted, nothing 'added' to the experience itself. The emotion is there in the experience, and in what you've written we can feel it and engage with it. That is healing, so you have done us a huge service.

I want to share something with you. It's an ancient Sanskrit prayer. I've known it for many years and it has often been a solace to me, and I read it often to my students.

Look well to this day, for it is life,
The very best of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence:
The joy of growth
The splendour of action
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory
And tomorrow is but a vision,
But today, if well lived,
Makes every yesterday a memory of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day.

Love to you, my friend. I'll be thinking of you.

Julie

Re: To Julie

Necee on 9/19/01 at 03:02 (060918)

Hi Julie,
So good to see your post.

May I say that If it were not for your compassion and genuine concern I might not have improved to the level I have. You have always been eager to respond and answer my questions, for that I am forever grateful.

It takes a special person to always have that desire in their heart to help others, you are that person.
God Bless you dear friend
Necee

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Clara on 9/19/01 at 04:47 (060919)

Hi Ellen! Thank you for your posting! I am so happy that you´re ok.I cried when I read your post.
I have no words. You was so close! Take care now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And: God be with you.

Ps Thanks Julie for your post! ds

Clara

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Barbara TX on 9/19/01 at 18:58 (061004)

I printed this up some days ago and just finished it now. What an amazing piece of writing, and history. Ellen, thank God you are well, and I offer you condolences for your heartbreaking experience. It reminds me of the poem (who wrote it?):

I walked a mile with gladness
She chattered all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say

I walked a mile with sorrow
And ne'er a word said she
But oh, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. B.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Carmel M on 9/18/01 at 11:28 (060847)

Ellen,
Thank you for your post...and letting us know you are safe.

I cannot imagine being there to witness the destruction first hand but have seen enough on tv to know it must have been just horrifying. You are very brave, I think I might have panicked just a little.

I have done my share of crying over the loss of lives, loss of security and trust and loss of wholeness...I feel as if they have taken something from us, but I cannot find the right words to describe what that something is.

The green grass at the end of your post got me crying again too. That is what is hardest for me...continuing on with my 'normal' life when I know that many, many are not able to do that. I somehow feel bad for doing that. But I do have to go on with my life for my sake and the sake of my family, but I do so with a prayer for those suffering through all this.

Carmel

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Laurie R on 9/18/01 at 11:50 (060848)

Dear Ellen , I don't even know what to say ..... My heart goes out to you and to everyone .. We all have and will pray for you ... You are in our hearts . Thank you for you story , Like I said I am at a lost for words right now ..... Bless you ..... Laurie R

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

JudyS on 9/18/01 at 13:31 (060856)

Ellen, I thought my own crying had perhaps come to an end. But I was wrong. You have 'brought it home' for us here, and for that I can't thank you enough. I can only imagine how it is for you today to relive your memories of this horror.
We thank the Lord that you are safe, and we pray for your neighborhoods.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

wendyn on 9/18/01 at 13:32 (060857)

Thank you Ellen.

I am glad that others here are more on top of things than I am...I did not realize where you lived until others pointed it out.

I decided to stay in for lunch and read your post.

I will print it off and hang it by my desk. It is a perspective we have not heard before, and one I thing people need to realize.

Re: thank you ellen

CArmen H on 9/18/01 at 13:35 (060858)

thank you for sharing Ellen...we are so glad you are safe.....
take your time getting back to us. We'll be here.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Suzanne D on 9/18/01 at 14:48 (060871)

Ellen, you and I have never spoken or written to one another; I am relatively new here. But I have been concerned for you, reading the posts in the past few days of those who were asking about your safety. I am sorry for your trials and am praying for you. I read of your experience last week, and I am sorry for what you had to go through.

God be with you!

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Steve P on 9/18/01 at 15:46 (060876)

Ellen -- What an extraordinary experience. Thanks for taking the time to recount it so vividly & articulately. I have just read it twice and I know I will again.

In Maryland we lost a number of people, including 2 flight attendants on the plane that hit the Pentagon. There were many Marylanders among the Pentagon staff & some on the flight too.

Never before in my 51 years have I been in tears over a news event. But it happens to me now every day, usually for a little while in the morning when I'm home alone. Then I go out for the rest of the day & am around people & am OK.

I can't imagine what it must have been like to have seen what you did first hand. Thanks again for your account.

All the best to you Ellen...........Steve

Re: May God be with u our friend

Tammie on 9/18/01 at 15:48 (060878)

Our dear friend,
We were so saddened by the tragedy and horror of what happend a week a go today! It has affected so very many in this world we live in. We prayed for your saftey and the saftey of your family and many others we are happy God spared you to finish your work , what ever it may be. I hope that he will continue to help those in need and thru the suffering of burrying there dead . And to the people who must now live with this fear and terror and tragedy for the rest of there days. May he see the suffering and hear the cries and give us the ways and means to rebuild and continue our lives, that will be so very hard for so many and my hopes and thoughts and prayers go to you and the rest of the city of New York! I am so very glad you are safe and wish you well thru your grieving and healing . May God be with u today and always and keep you safe and help heal your grief. Love to u and some big hugggggggggggggggggggssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Re: May God be with u our friend

Donna M on 9/18/01 at 16:20 (060882)

Ellen, we all are so thankful that you made it through that!
I thought I had cried about my limit, but reading your description of all that happened and how I know you must have felt, just tears at my heart.
I know you will never get over the trauma of this, which is very understandable, but just feel assured that we are all here for you, at anytime you need us!
Take Care, Donna

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

PatC on 9/18/01 at 17:14 (060889)

I am new to this board and don't know you, but like all the others was touched by your description of the devastation. Thank god you are safe.

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

nancy s. on 9/18/01 at 18:13 (060894)

ellen, your story is riveting and poignant. everyone is crying with you, and you're not alone. i know it will be some time before you feel grounded again, but i, like everyone else, am glad you're safe. welcome back.
nancy

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

john h on 9/18/01 at 18:38 (060900)

i cannot add to what has already been said ellen. A lot of people were really worried about you.

Re: Ellen

Necee on 9/19/01 at 00:13 (060912)

Ellen,
How good to hear that your ok, as tragic as this is, I'm just so very thankful that you are alright. I had tried to contact you, and also sent out emails hoping that I had the right Ellen, but unfortunately it wasn't you. Thank you for remembering us here and for letting us know how you are.

Since you are right there, and have a better perspective on things, I've been wanting to help, maybe sending money or supplies. Can you give me any suggestions as to who might need help. I watch the news reports and know that the police and firefighters have plenty of supplies and food, but what about the outlying areas? If you can provide some ideas I sure would appreciate it. Your fellow American in Texas feels so helpless.

Ellen, if you feel the need to vent your feelings, anger or otherwise, please do so, I can't be there with you in person but I hope you find comfort in knowing that I continue to think about you daily and remember you in my prayers. It's going to be a long hard road back to 'Normal Life USA' but you will succeede.

United we Stand!
Necee

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Julie on 9/19/01 at 01:49 (060916)

Dear Ellen

Thank you, thank you for writing this. I've printed it and read it many times since yesterday, and my heart goes out to you in comradeship. You were so close. I knew more or less where you live, but didn't realize you were that close - and you were so lucky you couldn't get the appointment you wanted! I am so relieved and glad that you are safe and well.

Please take good care of yourself now: it will take a while for the shock you've had - and it's a shock to the whole system - to recede, and for you to heal. Sometimes in such situations (not that there has ever been any 'such situation') we get impatient with ourselves, thinking we ought to have 'got back to normal' by now. I have seen this so often in people who have been very ill, or been through any real crisis. Please don't pressure yourself: give yourself all the time you need, however much it takes.

I'm glad for myself that you wrote about your experience. I have felt very isolated since last Tuesday - American, a New Yorker, but not physically there, though my whole heart and mind have been there, longing to reach out and get closer to my city, my people. I haven't succeeded. But what you've written has helped me with that, probably quite a lot, so, thank you.

I also want to say that it's one of the best pieces of writing I have read for a very long time! (and there have been many, many good ones in the papers all week). So quiet, understated and precise, every word counting, not a word wasted, nothing 'added' to the experience itself. The emotion is there in the experience, and in what you've written we can feel it and engage with it. That is healing, so you have done us a huge service.

I want to share something with you. It's an ancient Sanskrit prayer. I've known it for many years and it has often been a solace to me, and I read it often to my students.

Look well to this day, for it is life,
The very best of life.
In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence:
The joy of growth
The splendour of action
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory
And tomorrow is but a vision,
But today, if well lived,
Makes every yesterday a memory of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day.

Love to you, my friend. I'll be thinking of you.

Julie

Re: To Julie

Necee on 9/19/01 at 03:02 (060918)

Hi Julie,
So good to see your post.

May I say that If it were not for your compassion and genuine concern I might not have improved to the level I have. You have always been eager to respond and answer my questions, for that I am forever grateful.

It takes a special person to always have that desire in their heart to help others, you are that person.
God Bless you dear friend
Necee

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Clara on 9/19/01 at 04:47 (060919)

Hi Ellen! Thank you for your posting! I am so happy that you´re ok.I cried when I read your post.
I have no words. You was so close! Take care now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And: God be with you.

Ps Thanks Julie for your post! ds

Clara

Re: From Ellen -- Thank you all

Barbara TX on 9/19/01 at 18:58 (061004)

I printed this up some days ago and just finished it now. What an amazing piece of writing, and history. Ellen, thank God you are well, and I offer you condolences for your heartbreaking experience. It reminds me of the poem (who wrote it?):

I walked a mile with gladness
She chattered all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say

I walked a mile with sorrow
And ne'er a word said she
But oh, the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. B.