Yeah, I remember 9/11. Kim was 37 weeks pregnant and at the obstetricians’ office for a checkup. She called home and we watched the second plane hit on TV from our different ends of the phone line. Yes, I had friends who died in World Trade Towers. Back then, I watched, horrified and fascinated for the first few hours. But by the time the afternoon rolled around and my daughters came home from school, I had had more than enough. I remember sitting down with them and telling them that this was an event that would shape their lives, that for years to come people would ask, do you remember where you were on 9/11.

It has been quite a decade since that day. There has been lots of coverage, and I’ve managed to avoid most of it. This morning, I did pause to watch some of the memorial at Ground Zero, and was struck by the respectful nature of almost all the coverage. It made the one channel, which played sensationalized footage of that horrible day particularly stand out.

As I watch some of the memorial, our dog plays with our neighbors dog, and my daughter plays with a friend. It brings to mind W. H. Auden’s poem, “Musee des Beauz Arts”

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

The one cartoon that captures some of my other feelings about 9/11 has a middle aged obese man wearing a baseball cap with a Gadsden flag emblazoned on it, unsuccessfully trying to zip up a jacket that says, “United We Stand”. Looking down at his bulging belly, he says, “It fit 10 years ago”.

“And then one day you find ten years have got behind you”.

Yeah, we’ve come along way from ten years ago when members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, stood together on the steps of the Capitol singing, “God Bless America”. We’ve come a long way since our neighbors came over to our house ten years ago, wielding candles and sharing stories of friends that had died that day.

Yes, we caught a glimmer of that as neighbors helped out neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, but I fear that might be fleeting as well.

Meanwhile, as I try to think about these past ten years, all that comes to mind are various songs. I’ve already quoted Pink Floyd’s “Time”. Lucy Kaplansky’s “Ten Year Night” also comes to mind,

Open your eyes and look at me
Cause I have and hold this love for you
Before this ten year night is through
I'm telling you
Take it from me…

We're ten years older I know we are
Than the night we met in that downtown bar
You thought I was some kind of star
That's what you said

Mixing in with that is Half a Million Miles by the Kennedys,

Round, round, ten traveling years
Is a mighty long, long while
When the long road stretches out ahead
A half a million miles.

It is strange to be thinking of happy ten year anniversary songs on this day, yet that is perhaps part of being human, and being able to put lives back together after something horrible. In a few weeks, we will celebrate Fiona’s tenth birthday. When she was born, I wrote this blog post about Fiona’s birth. Woven into the narrative were lyrics from various Joni Mitchell songs, and it only seems appropriate to end with “Both Sides Now”.

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

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