So I’m picking the songs tonight by hand. I heard them throughout my day, so I’m not really cheating. I was cleaning my apartment, missing those who are no longer here because that’s what I do sometimes. I made a genius list off iTunes based on the first song, which puts me back twelve years today.
I was on duty for the first time on my own in Connecticut, with a houseful of boys worried about the state of their lives, the state of the country, the state of the world.
Most of my students are twelve, on their way to thirteen, and I have to touch upon how our lives changed so much twelve years ago.
They do not know our country without war. They have never had someone meet them at their airport gate, unless they were flying alone.
They are too young to remember that those first few weeks after 9/11, that driving to the airport, at least on the east coast meant a trunk search by a guy in cammos with a semi on his shoulder.
They will never know what those moments felt like watching live on tv or God forbid, in Battery Park.
Nor should they.
I lost one of my favorite great aunts that morning, a few hours before the first plane hit the first tower, to Cancer. When I was able to piece together her loss, and the loss of former Cantor Fizgerald clients, and the state of our country, I was alone. And I think I needed to be. My first thought was if my Auntie Bette had survived that morning and had somehow heard the news in Vancouver, she wouldn’t have made it.
You see, she was an optimist, a rough-and-tumble Depression girl who saw the best in people. Despite my Gram having four sisters, she was her best friend. And they were sisters-in-law. Those phone calls home to the west coast that early morning, afternoon, and bedtime were filled with tears, silence, and questions.
The stark reality of the day hit me as I turned on the news like every morning, this morning,hearing the announced moment of silence. I forgot.
Like I forgot the date on my first day of school this year, the 5th anniversary of my Gram’s death.
But I realize that it’s ok to forget the exact moment–our memories and thoughts surpass it.
I think again of my students, who view today as just another day. Math test. Swim unit. Breathing in and out to avoid a meltdown.
These past few weeks in my new job have changed me. Kids don’t fear the 40 minute security line at the airport. Nor do they fathom the severity of Syria, regardless of viewpoint. It’s how they live now.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I think I mean to say that regardless of age, we all know our struggles and remembrances from day to day. My students just don’t understand ours today. And the more I think about it, that’s ok.
I spoke to my Gram tonight, apologizing for not remembering the anniversary of her death. She was probably rolling her eyes because she knows I probably thought of her umpteen times that day without realization. But I know Auntie Bette, and everyone else I love was around her, and probably rolling their eyes too.
I think it’s wise to remember to move forward and have your moments of thinking of those who are no longer with us, 9/11 or not, but also see that there are a fresh bunch of faces looking at us to move forward. Never forget, but keep pressing on. Think about that math test, and swim unit, and breathing in order to avoid that meltdown.
We remember when we see a hummingbird, or a butterfly, or when we spill coffee grounds on the floor. It might not happen every day, but we remember.
So Far Away–Carole King
Both Sides–Joni Mitchell
Time in a Bottle–Jim Croce
America–Simon and Garfunkel
City of New Orleans–Willie Nelson
My Roots of my Raising–Merle Haggard