Tag Archives: first responders

i left my heart in hicksville

Hello, friend…

You might have let out a chuckle when you spotted the title of tonight’s blog, and I can’t blame you really, but it’s a place. It’s in the state of New York. It’s the residence of someone I love a lot. I got some sad news today, news I knew I’d be receiving sooner than later (but hoping it would be MUCH MUCH later) but I received it during my shift at the bakery I work at. It wasn’t a place I could yell and punch a bag of flour, really (though ohmygod do I want to do that when I get asked some of the questions I get asked by customers)… and then I had to head off to a meeting for the board of directors for my apartment building (because I’m the Treasurer)… and THEN I had to go to a comedy show and do a bit about a douchebag I met online dating (because I am a single lady, with a plethora of such stories to tell).

And now I’m home, and I have a space to yell my lungs out… but I can’t. I am, however, crying as I write this. Though technically I can blame that on my mascara, which sometimes makes me tear up at the end of a long day. But truthfully, we can all call bullshit on that because the truth is my friend Ray is likely not long for this earth and that is why I am crying. I have written about Ray before and I likely will many more times. I have been listening to U2’s Everlasting Love a number of times tonight.Where life really flows / No One really knows…. His friendship is not one I’ve had for long, about a year really, but knowing where I am now in 2017 and knowing where we both were on September 11, 2001… that our paths crossed 15 years later? Wow. I’m a lucky lady.

So, if you’ll permit me… I just want to address one person in particular right now…

Ray, I tell you this now because I know you’re still here and hopefully Caryn or Taylor will be able to pass on what I told you when I last saw you in April… I love you deeply, and still shake my head at my good fortune that I met you. When we began filming No Responders Left Behind, I had no fucking clue it would lead me to the people I’ve met. One of whom, is you. I am so sorry we won’t have the film finished in time for you, but I know when we do bring it to festivals next year you will have a REALLY good seat at the premiere. We both share a belief that you have to keep telling your stories, if you can tell your story or the story of someone who has passed so their memory is kept alive it’s a good day. Your positive outlook will be on repeat in my head for the rest of my life. When I’m down about x, y or z… when someone asks me “What’s in a chocolate chip cookie?”, I will take a breath and mutter ‘Chocolate and cookie’ only to myself, as I tell them with a smile what’s in… (sigh)… a chocolate chip cookie…. THE POINT IS, Ray. I will miss you greatly. But I’m here to keep telling your story, and the stories of your fellow First Responders. I will do that, and promise you that. Thank you for helping me find my voice as a filmmaker and as a storyteller. xo, Kelly.

Because my journey for this documentary started by my watching The Daily Show, I’ll end things tonight with my Moment of Zen. It’s from when we wrapped our first block of filming in May 2016… Ray is the dude in the center… rocking the FDNY uniform.

xo.

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for the benefit of mr. ray

Hello, friend…

I found as I woke up this morning not 100% certain of what happened the night before. It’s not that the previous night was a booze filled Saturday night, but rather… well. I’ll try to explain. As I’ve alluded to at times, I’m making a documentary (my first!) and about a year ago now we started filming (we being my amazing core team of Rob, Kristine, Jaime & Nic – and other awesome souls along the way). I’ve traveled with them over the year, as we follow this unbelievable man named John Feal (a 9/11 Responder and the president of the FealGood Foundation). In the course of getting to know John, we’ve gotten to know some phenomenal men & women, First Responders and their families. It has brought so much love into my life, this horrible horrible event has brought proverbial flowers growing through cracks in cement… I’ve gotten to know people who need more help now than you could possibly imagine because of what they did that day in September.

And on Saturday I found myself at a pub in a part of Long Island I’d never been to before, amongst more people than you could count, celebrating the sunshine that is a beloved 9/11 First Responder named Ray Pfeifer. For the first time, I was there without my core crew but with a new friend, my camera guy Jimmy… and we just soaked in all this love. Ray has Cancer, he’s been kicking its ass since 2009 when he (& a lot of 9/11 Responders, actually) learned of their diagnosis and it’s relation to Sept. 11th. But as I say, this is my first documentary and I came into it so very accidentally (watching the Daily Show & sending a Tweet). I began following John because I was astounded to learn of what he’s been doing and continues to do for his fellow Responders. And little by little, trust was granted and given, and they have welcomed us into their community.

As photos flashed all through the venue, it struck me that we have been woven into the fabric with our little documentary that could. I saw pictures of myself, our director Rob, Jaime… I saw us flashing amongst these photos of years previous as the guys lobbied in Washington… and amongst all of their history was us.

Short of what I was wearing on 9/11, I remember almost everything about that day. I remember how scared I was as I watched the TV with co-workers at the CBC in Toronto. There is no way on Earth I could have foreseen myself crossing paths with people like John and Ray. But it’s an example of the good that has come out of the horrors they experienced, and I witnessed. There has been so much bad, but there has been so much good too. But it’s come at a cost, and I’m aware of that.

With our little film, I’m trying to throw as much good as I can into the world. The world needs it, stories of good hope and people doing the right thing simply because the right thing needs to be done. For as hard of a time as I’m having with finding love, for the mess I’m making of that (though yes, I know it makes for “good material for my stand-up”)… the event yesterday reminded me that I’m helping to tell stories that need to be told. And that is a good thing.

I wish so much I could make Ray’s Cancer go away.  I wish I could bring back my dear James & my friend Ana-Alecia who lost their fights to Cancer, but I cannot. But I can help by telling stories.

I don’t know what I’m really trying to say here tonight. What point it was to post this, except that … well… we all have stories to tell. YOU have a story to tell. So you should go tell it. Because by speaking up, it could help someone. Jon Stewart spoke up on The Daily Show, and it moved me to speak up on social media and offer help to strangers. Who are now my friends.

xo.