What Happened on Thursday

Millennium Library ArchitectureThis is a personal post about an awful incident I witnessed at my library a few days ago. You may wish to skip this one.  Writing it out has been helpful for me. I don’t usually talk about my personal life on the blog, and I debated whether I should share this. I’ve decided to post it because my library is such an important place to me, a safe place, a comfortable place, an almost sacred place. Discovering books, writing my blog, reading books, all these activities I do at the library are so closely tied into who I am. I have so much love for my beautiful library. I visit at least once a week. It was the place I missed most when I spent a year in Japan. I wrote a lot about it in 2014 for the Summer Library Reading Challenge.  My library is four stories tall and known for its impressive wall of windows and open staircase. You can see in the photos.

This is what happened: I was on the fourth floor. I saw a man fall from the fourth floor. I had been working on a book review at one of the public computers. Only later did I learn the man had become deeply upset by something he may have seen on the computer, just a few stations over from where I was working. I didn’t notice him until someone yelled, “What are you doing?” I saw a man clinging to the glass. So many people rushed to grab him – even I instinctively took a few steps towards him even though I was probably 50 feet away – but then I heard people scream and I closed my eyes and covered my ears.

I wrote out a long version of this story, with all the details of what I did and saw and felt in the moment. I don’t think that needs to be shared publicly. I’m glad I wrote it, though. Writing it out has been something of a purging process for me.

On Thursday I was shaky, unable to comprehend that what I had seen has really happened. The man was in critical condition. Maybe he would make it. I cried and cried on Friday, when I read that he had passed away. He was 25 years old, the same as me. On Saturday I settled down a bit. Every now and then I had a burst of selfish anger, like “Why did this happen?!” Today I feel pretty good. This helped. I’m not thinking about it non-stop. I didn’t know the man personally (how do his loved ones feel?), I didn’t see the worst moments (my heart breaks for those who did). Mostly I’m a little nervous about how I’ll feel when I go back to the library. I’ll have to remember that the library remains the the exact same place I know and love.

Jenna's signature

  • Jenna, I’m so sorry this happened, to everyone involved. I’m glad you find that writing it out has been therapeutic — if you need further help or counseling, I hope you can find it. It’s hard to detach the site and circumstances of a trauma from the experience, but the library needs your love and support more than ever right now.

    • Thank-you so much, Lory. Since I gave a statement to the police, Victim Services has been in touch, so I know I could always give them a call. I made a quick stop in the library to pick up a hold this morning. I found it comforting to see everyone going about their usual business.

  • Savannah Aleksic

    That must’ve been traumatic for everybody there. I’m glad writing it all out could help you.

    • Thank-you, Savannah. I don’t usually journal or anything like that, but this worked as a way for me to process everything through words.

  • I’m so sorry to hear that you witnessed this terribly tragic event. I can’t even imagine what you must have gone through. I’m glad that you’ve been able to process your emotions by writing it all out.