Tuesday, September 16, 2008

724. Belatedly

I meant to write on 9/11, as I have for the past few years. I'm learning that the death of buildings and memories is not really much different than the death of a loved one. Time seems to dull pain, and then it all comes back with the sound of a breath, a certain glint of sunlight.

I planned to go to morning minyan and say the Mourner's Kaddish. Instead I chose to lay in bed and think about good and bad parts of that day--there really was goodness amidst unimaginable agony, as I grew closer to friends and community and watched everyone try to help each other even as we thought the world was ending. I also remembered how my mother insisted we visit the Towers in person as soon as they were built; same for the Citicorp (now Citigroup ) Center. She wasn't otherwise an architecture buff, but delighted in these new and unusual additions to the skyline--her skyline. There was an urgency about seeing them, as if we had to claim them as soon as possible in order to retain our ownership of the city. Did we ever get to the oddly Chippendale-corniced AT&T (now Sony) Building? It opened during a year about which I recall very little, when my mother was in and out of the hospital and I was in a constant haze. I remember we spoke about it, and have an image of myself in the building lobby, very sad. I don't think we got there together.

But the Towers in my mind's eye still make me smile, as I see my mother standing in wonder on the roof deck.

I appreciated this quasi-Biblical account of the last seven years, a little forced but also profound:

In the Seventh Year

In Judaism, seven is a number of rest--for the earth and living beings each Shabbat, for crops in seven-year cycles, the number before covenant (brit milah, circumcision, on the eighth day of life). I pray that this year we can continue to heal, and begin a new cycle of promises of love rather than hatred. And that this anniversary can fall into a rhythm and melody that manages to comfort even while searing an eternal memory:

9/11 Chant

(HT to Kol Ra'ash Gadol for reminding me of this rewriting of Eikha [Lamentations] by Rabbi Irwin Kula.)


Babz Rawls Ivy said...

Hello Sister,
I appreciate you sharing your mother's fondness for tall buildings.

And yes there were things about that day that was good and holy. I did not blog on that day. I Have other memories of 9/11. 2 years ago on that day I plead guilty in federal court so I have that memory on top of the tragedy of 9/11.

I think we are forever changed and perhaps for the better.

alto artist said...

I feel like my mother lives on in some small way when I can share these quirky memories (funny, before this year I never really thought about how much she liked those buildings). Thank you again for reading and helping me in this task. I join you in believing that in the bigger picture, and in all our lives, that day will mark the end of the lowest part of our histories and the beginning of much better things.