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September 11 redux

2003-09-11 - 10:34 a.m.

I thought I'd be able to treat today like any other day. Last year I had a nagging sense of doom and depression leading up to Sept. 11, but this year I was fine. Yesterday was a good day--went to some productive meetings, had a great lesson, came home and relaxed with my husband.

But this morning I woke up, and like a ghost rising from the still face of a lake, sadness crept back into me. The cat could sense it and was unusually clingy this morning, which meant she was practically a cat-shaped swatch of Velcro.

On the commute I popped in my beloved "Dona Nobis Pacem," of which you've heard me speak many times. Comforted by the promise of the baritone, ("O man, greatly beloved, fear not. Peace be unto you. Be strong, yea, be strong.") I wound my way through traffic to the office, armed with Vaughan Williams and Faure.

Got into the office and clicked on the radio, to be greeted by Beethoven’s 9th. The programming on NPR today is music of comfort, a change from last year’s music of grief. Powered up the computer and went over to Arts and Letters Daily—to read about the photos taken of the people jumping from the WTC two years ago. About how those images have been systematically expunged from the American record. About our lack of willingness to bear witness. And I’m no better than anyone else; it took me two tries to get through the article. All the sadness, the despair and desperation came rushing back into me like a river.

And now I'm sitting here in the office, trying to focus on copy. A large American flag is being unfurled across the street and I have a perfect view from my window. And I'm faced with a schizophrenic dichotomy: am I comforted by this reminder of American solidarity in the face of grief, or I am discomforted by the inevitable allusion to Nazi flags, a grim reminder of the road I think our government has taken to fascism? Both, I guess. Am I supposed to be angry or sad today? Again, both, I guess, but right now sad is winning out.

Still, life goes on, and this is just part of the weave. I do have faith that we can avoid our own apocalypse, that individual acts of compassion can help balance the scale. That we can all go down to the river and toss our sins away, the current carrying the breadcrumbs in a ceaseless wash of redemption, and we can walk away, back up the bank towards the cities and towns with the promise of a new dawn in our hearts and on our lips.

Happy September 11, everyone.


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