Women entertain angels in the midst of 9-11, Ash Wednesday fires

Angel in the rubble, Genelle Guzman, angels, 9-11, World trade Centre, booksTwo women who have been through the most horrific events of our time have written of the comfort and aid brought by angels during periods of suffering.

Genelle Guzman was the last person rescued from Ground Zero after the September 1, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and tells her story in Angel in the Rubble.

Ann Fogarty is one of few people to survive the seriousness of burns she received while protecting her children from the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 and she tells her story in the new book, Forged with Flames.
Ann Fogarty, Forged with Flames, Ash Wednesday, bushfires, burns victim, survivor, angel
As scepticism often greets accounts of people coming through near death experiences and saying they went to heaven (or hell), so too no doubt many will be tempted to write-off accounts of angels from women suffering extreme trauma.

But these are strong survivors who have told their stories in detail some time after the events, very differently, but with similar degrees of certainty. It may come down to your beliefs about spiritual reality...

Mysterious Paul finds Genelle

Angel in the Rubble is a compelling read even without the question of angels. Being the last person pulled alive from under the collapsed twin-towers and telling of all that happened on that day and for 27 hours of being trapped is enough story for anyone.

But as author Genelle was nearing the end of her strength, she recalled a rescuer who gave his name as Paul grabbing her hand through the rubble and holding it, comforting her and telling her again and again, "they are nearly here.

Shortly after two other fireman arrived and her rescue from beneath tonnes of concrete was effected. After her recovery, she found those two men, Rick and Brian, but they had no knowledge of Paul and said no one had been with her when they found her.

As she searched her memory about the details, she remembered the comfort she felt when Paul took her hand and said, before she had spoken to him, 'I've got you Genelle.' Only much later did she question 'So how does this person know me?'

After exhausting all avenues in explaining the presence and identity of Paul, she spoke with Brooklyn Tabernacle Pastor Jim Cymbala and he suggested, 'Genelle, God may have sent you an angel.'

Young woman's long vigil

Ann Fogarty's story of an angel is much different. It occurred while she was suffering for many long days and nights in intensive care as medical staff first kept her from death and then tried to repair her body from the burns she received to 85 per cent of her body.

In Chapter 11, Girl in the Corner, Ann talks about the hallucinations she experienced during recovery, as result of intense trauma and numerous painkillers and other drugs. Among the things she saw at the time was a young woman in the corner of her room, 'sitting serenely, glancing down, a beatific expression on her face, calm and centred.

Concerned about her lenghty vigil, she even asked nursing staff to get the young woman a cup of tea only to be told there was no young women present. Twenty years Ann had an experience where she saw the young woman's face again, in a different context, and came to believe 'absolutely, even though it seemed so bizarre' that she was 'her angel'.

If you think this is just wishful thinking, you haven't read Ann's book to understand the resilience she showed, the strength of mind, to overcome trauma after trauma.

While saying she has learned so much from the tragedy of the fire, including that 'God is always bigger than whatever you're going through' she concludes by saying, 'This book doesn't have a fairy tale ending, it has something better. It has hope.'

Angel in the Rubble, Genelle Guzman-McMillan with William Croyle, Australian publisher Allen & Unwin, August 2011, paperback, 240 pages.

Forged with Flames, Ann Fogarty and Anne Crawford, publisher Wild Dingo Press, February 2013, paperback, 260 pages.


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