One South African woman’s recollections of Friday night’s tragedy in Paris is being shared around the world. Over 2 million people have ‘liked’ Isobel Bowdery’s message on Facebook (including FB’s own Mark Zuckerberg); and newspapers from the UK to Australia have published her story and photo of the bloodied shirt she was wearing.
Isobel who seems to be currently travelling through Europe – she posted photos from Greece in September – was at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris on Friday night when the gunmen attacked.
At first she thought it was an elaborate part of the show…and then spent the following hour pretending to be dead, and fearing that her boyfriend was dead.
She describes how the scene of happy people dancing and smiling was transformed into a massacre with dozens of people shot in front of her, grown men crying, and how “pools of blood filled the floor”.
She spent over an hour, she says, “holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry – not giving those men the fear they longed to see”.
Acknowledging how lucky she was to survive, Isobel has used the opportunity to shed light on the heroes.
She says: “To the man who reassured me and put his life on [the] line to try and cover my brain whilst I whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy I loved was dead, to the injured man who I had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors, to the friend who offered me shelter and went out to buy new clothes so I wouldn’t have to wear this blood stained top, to all of you who have sent caring messages of support – you make me believe this world has the potential to be better.
“To never let this happen again. But most of this is to the 80 people who were murdered inside that venue, who weren’t as lucky, who didnt get to wake up today and to all the pain that their friends and families are going through. I am so sorry. There’s nothing that will fix the pain. I feel priviledged to be there for their last breaths. And truly believing that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved.
“As I lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. Over and over again. Reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those I love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people. To not let those men win.
“Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people. To live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfil. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten.”
Read Isobel’s full message here: