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Friendship Begins Over Shared Grief At Paris Memorial


We are following events that are moving very quickly here. Police carried out a raid at an apartment in a suburb just north of here. They were searching for the man believed to have planned the attacks in Paris last week. But let's hear now about a friendship that was born out of the Paris attacks last Friday. A young man and a young woman happened to be in the same place on Sunday night, at a memorial to victims with candles and flowers on a Paris street near the concert venue, the Bataclan, where 89 people were killed.

NAOMI CARRERA: He talked to me first. I was in front of the candles and I was, like, crying. We were at the memorial.

GREENE: That's Naomi Carrera (ph), a slight blonde woman, only 19 years old. We were chatting last night at a crowded outdoor cafe. She was with 28-year-old Cedric Ray (ph), his dark-hair gelled stylishly. He's a trained EMT, a volunteer firefighter. When he saw Naomi on Sunday night, he knew that she was suffering the same way he was.

CEDRIC RAY: You know who are the people who were there during the attack because they have not the same face than the others. They look to the building or other directions because we are thinking about that.

GREENE: They're thinking about the violence they both saw. Cedric was at a coffee shop the night of the attacks, just outside the entrance to the Bataclan.

RAY: Suddenly, I saw, like, four or five guys were opening the door with their foot. And...

GREENE: Like kicking it open?

RAY: Yes.

GREENE: To the theater?

RAY: Yeah, just the door. And maybe 3 or 4 seconds later, I heard the weapons.

GREENE: Naomi was inside, listening to the band.

CARRERA: I called my mom. I said mom, something weird is happening right now. There's shootings. So I went to the balcony, and I saw the dead people - say, mom, if those are my last words, I just love you. And she said, don't panic.

GREENE: Naomi escaped by getting up onto the roof and climbing into someone's apartment.

RAY: And suddenly, I saw a guy running outside from the theater. He has been shot twice on his leg.

GREENE: Cedric saw so many victims fleeing. One, he says, died right in front of him. He says guilt has been eating away at him.

RAY: Every time the people say - says no, it's not your fault. But every time, I think about when I was just sit at my table, and I saw that there's guys going inside. Maybe, if I just took my phone and I dialed the police number, maybe something would change. But we will never know.

GREENE: The images just keep replaying in his head. And Cedric says he's only slept a few hours total since that night. Naomi is having the opposite experience. She has stopped going to classes and isn't sure she's going to go back to college.

CARRERA: I escape in sleep. I mean, I sleep lots. And every time I wake up is awful because it's - some people I saw could not follow us to escape the terrorists.

GREENE: Naomi said that yesterday, she was feeling really dark.

CARRERA: Few hours ago, I was thinking maybe I preferred being dead than living with that. Some - it's what I thought. But I say, no, you have to thank that you're alive. Just be positive. But it's very hard.

GREENE: How often are you seeing each other since Friday?

RAY: Every day. Every night, we are in the same place. And before we go, we just text or call each other and, do you want to go? Yes, of course, and we go.

GREENE: So night after night, they have been meeting beside those candles and flowers.

RAY: I don't want to see my friends. I don't want to see my family. I don't - I just - I just want to see - yeah, just want to see her because she can understand what I live because she lives the same thing.

GREENE: So you're not - you're going to go to the memorial tonight - or not tonight?

CARRERA: I don't know. I don't know - maybe for the last time.

RAY: Myself, yes. I will go there tonight.

GREENE: They are realizing that this routine needs to end.

RAY: I think that we needed that during couple of days. But I think, yes, tonight, that's going to be the last time. I will not be back.

GREENE: Life just has to go on, they both said. Cedric Ray says he is eager to get back to work as an EMT. Naomi Carrera was leaving today for southern France to see her parents and to decide when or if she's going to return to school. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
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