marking the day


I started my day, as I’m sure many did, being inundated by the various morning talk shows’ commemoration of the September 11 anniversary. By nine-thirty, I was on my way to the restaurant, having said goodbye to Ginger, who was on her way back to Birmingham. I didn’t get off work until 9:30 tonight, which meant I didn’t hear anything else about the anniversary; my world today consisted of the folks I saw at work.
Anniversaries can be strange things. When it comes to public events like 9/11, something pulls us to notice and remember, but I’m not sure we can articulate – or have articulated – what we want the moment to mean. Perhaps the meanings among us are so diverse that we struggle to find cohesion, or even understanding. We want it to make sense. Two planes full of people crashing into the Towers will never make sense. The talk shows seemed to think that pulling our emotional strings was a way of giving the day meaning. The teaser before one commercial break was they were going to talk to the children who had been in the schoolroom with Bush when he found out to see what they remembered about the day. They were six or seven; now they’re eleven or twelve. Do they really have something to add to the public conversation?

September marks the fifth anniversary of the onset of my depression. Though I think it lurked in me like a terrorist for many years, as I look back now, it was September of 2001 when it took me down and took me down hard. In past years, this has been a dark month. So far this year, it does not seem to be so. Other than feeling I have lived another year and learned some things about how to live with depression, I don’t know what to make of the anniversary. Next year I will say it has been six years, and then seven after that. Septembers will pass like mile markers giving me a sense of the distance I have traveled, but not much else.

My aunt died five years ago last spring. For the first couple of years, I called my cousin on the anniversary of her death to say I was thinking about her. After the second or third anniversary, I got an email asking me not to do that again. The day was not one to be marked for her. “Call me on my mom’s birthday,” she said; “ that’s a day to celebrate and remember.” Composers are remembered on their birthday rather than they day of their death. For most other historically significant figures, it’s the other way round. I like thinking of Pegi as a composer; she created quite a symphony in the way she lived.

I wish I could say all my rambling was leading to some incredibly insightful comment, but I don’t know how to make sense of the day any more than anyone else, other than to say I spent it well. Something in that is worth remembering.


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