When a date is significant for more than one reason, how do we value the multiple meanings associated with the same time marker?
Sometimes a date calls for the remembrance of two or more happy occasions like two people we love sharing a birthday. At those times, we generally have no problem separating out the significance for each individual. We celebrate both people, perhaps send a card or present or even celebrate in different ways depending on the circumstances.
Why then do we struggle with the same differentiation when two different sorts of markers collide on the same date and how can we sync the differences to create special meanings on that same eventful date?
For instance, September 11th aka 9/11 holds multiple meanings for me. My son Daniel Jordan Fiddle (www.djfiddlefoundation.org)was born on this day. My firstborn child’s birthday is a date evoking some of the greatest happiness I have ever known. I will always celebrate my Danny, the vital meaning of his life and his joyful presence, especially on September 11th!
I, like many others around the world, will also always remember the earth-shattering events marking 9/11. September 11, 2001 changed our world forever(think about airport protocols, to name one) and my personal world was changed on that date forever too as it was Danny’s first birthday since his passing.
Standing at Evention a party planning and gift shop in New Jersey, as a bouquet of red balloons was prepared for me to hang on my gate in remembrance of Danny, the television news reported that the World Trade Center had been struck by an aircraft and was imploding. Danny’s father and thousands of others were there at work and no one knew what would become of them. During those treacherous hours after the attack, I was numb, I had been numb anyway, but now I was practically comatose. Fortunately Danny’s father survived but so many others perished and will never be forgotten.
As time has moved twenty years forward I have come to a place of reconciliation regarding the multiple significances of the date September 11th. I posited the thought that since birthdays are a time we celebrate someone, so too are days commemorating loss. Both occasions acknowledge special people we love.
Twenty years later, September 11th is still a day filled with many emotions and memories. I will think about all of those who senselessly perished, their families and friends who miss them and the immeasurable grief those horrific events caused. I will celebrate each life in my prayers. I will perhaps cry too, a mix of sad and happy tears, as I also celebrate the birthday of my precious son and his enduring legacy.
Grief and joy exist on each calendar day, sometimes side by side co-existing as they do for me on 9/11. When we can value our experiences and their impact on us, we become more resilient for all the days of our lives.
Linda J. Walder