NEW YORK (AP) - Ruth Powell and Irene Smith were strangers six
months ago, though they lived in the same Brooklyn neighborhood and
each had a son who was a firefighter.
Seated together at an event in March, they were introduced and
realized they shared something else - the pain of losing those sons
among the 343 firefighters killed in the destruction of the World
Now friendship can't even begin to describe what the two women
mean to each other.
"We can see each other's pain. We have a two-person support
group, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Powell, 58, whose
32-year-old son, Shawn, was part of Engine Company 207.
They cry together, comfort each other in late-night phone calls
during the many sleepless nights, help each other try to live with
a grief they say is unlike any other.
"We have really bonded because we both have lost the most
precious thing in the world, a child," said Smith, 68, whose son,
Leon, 48, was part of Ladder 118. "Whatever my fears are, when I
speak to Ruth, I feel better."
Although both have family, neither has a spouse at home. Smith,
a widow, said she is not comfortable sharing her pain with anyone
other than Powell. Smith said her mother and mother-in-law have
lost children themselves, but "I try not to burden them with my
feelings, because they're older now.
"That's the mask I have to wear because I don't want them to
worry," she said. But with Powell, "I don't have to pretend."
They also share a fear - that their sons' remains will never be
Each of them has held a memorial service for her son. Now each
waits, and prays, for the city medical examiner's office to give
her something she can bury.
As the anniversary of the attacks approaches, the women still
find it hard to believe that their sons won't come home, that a
year has gone by.
"The anticipation of it is like a thousand bricks on me and
each day it gets closer to Sept. 11, it's like one more brick added
on to the weight," Powell said.
"I thought I would be able to accept it a little bit more, but
I'm not at that point," Smith said.
"I don't know if I'll ever get to that point."
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Thread: A Friendship grows from tragedy
09-10-2002, 03:10 AM #1
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