"I don't know how much survivor guilt I have. Sometimes I think if I would have stayed, I might have been able to help. It was a miracle I got out and walked away with just a scratch. I do think there was some divine intervention that told me where to go. It was too perfect. It was like somebody was showing me how to get out.
"Also, my thought process changed. Something shifted inside me and life had new meaning. I believe that other people who experience life-and-death situations might experience the same feeling.
"For example, when I saw people arguing, I would wonder why they were wasting their life having an argument. I would think, 'It doesn't mean anything. Just move on. There are so many things to do.' "Another time, I went to the supermarket, I was just staring at a tomato and thinking it was the most perfect piece of art I had ever seen. It was red, it had this beautiful green stem, it was not too hard, not too soft, a beautiful smell. It had a thin film of dirt or something on it, and I thought 'It's okay, I'll wash it off.' "It made me recall the memories of picking fresh vegetables on a farm in Greece when I was a child and, simultaneously, of the time I ran through a glass door that damaged the right side of my body and left a scar on my forehead. I had to laugh to myself. It was the most amazing tomato I have ever held in my hand! At once, it brought all these images into my mind, and I realized I was replaying my life in an instant as a way to remember and hold onto and savor every moment. I also realized that my life would not be the same, not if I didn't take the time to appreciate everything as a new opportunity. Holding that tomato allowed me to reflect and to ponder the mystery of life's turns. Yesterday I was ready to swim to Brooklyn in the East River, and today I am holding the most beautiful tomato I've ever seen and holding it in my own hand.