It's hard for me to see to hear to read all of the rehashings of September 11 each year. I empathize, I sympathize and I sometimes even pathologize their pain. I didn't lose anybody in the attacks, but when the sun sets on September 11, a day full of pain and sadness for so many, it will then dawn on the saddest day of the year for me.
My September 11 is September 12, the anniversary of my father's death.
Am I comparing the two events? No. Yes. No. I marry the events, a pall cast and spread over just so many hours more; a national day of mourning and remembering and railing at the unfairness of it all. I share those things as I think of my father, on the fourth anniversary of his death.
My father was an American, a Vietnam Veteran and an objector to much of what America was about. His death was not sudden and unexpected, if you count the 4 weeks we had to prepare for it, not sudden and unexpected. He died an ugly, horrible, painful death. We lived through it, we think about it nearly every day. We have survivor's guilt, though his illness was his alone.
He was one of the most important people in my life, and he is no longer here.
Grief is grief. Pain and sadness is for the living.
September 12 marks four years. How, I wonder, can that be? I feel like a lifetime has passed since he went away. I have a child he never knew, for chrissake. Missed knowing her by less than 2 months. She'll miss knowing him forever.
I have a new life he knows nothing about. I had many conversations with my father as we contemplated this huge change, but he didn't have to be there for me to know what he would say. I want you to be happy. Do what you think will make you happy. Your kids are the most important thing in the world.
His kids were the most important thing in his world. I knew that.
September 11 is fast approaching, say the calendars the newspapers the TVs the magazines. The season of grief is upon us.
And then comes September 12.