Never Forget. That is the ubiquitous 9/11 statement is it not? And as always it perplexes me. This year in particular, with all the media attention about the Mosque in Manhattan and the burning of the Koran in Florida, how can we possibly forget? The media is always finding us a new angle on which to focus our attention, keeping 9/11 fresh and new, keeping controversy alive and well.
I’m glad the anniversary will be on a Saturday this year. When its on a weekend, it feels more fun somehow, like we can sleep in, have a big rousing breakfast and enjoy the day. No one cares about the media on a Saturday, everyone is trying to enjoy their day. My kids won’t have the pressure of wondering what they will say when a teacher will inevitably bring the up the subject, never guessing that a child who had been directly affected sits among their midst.
I will revel in the calls I will receive from people who I only manage to speak to once a year. I am grateful in that way to have such a public anniversary date, a date that had Arron died a more natural death would likely be forgotten in people’s minds. This raises the question every year of whether its better to remember the day or forget it, my usual default. It’s not a day I want to remember, its Arron I want to remember. But somehow the two are confused, melded together, a bittersweet combo.
I sit here at my desk, looking out at my garden, trying to come up with a memory of Arron, a story I can tell about him that would bring him to life. I am surprised at how hard I find this, have always found this, since the moment he died. I wonder why. Perhaps I just so took for granted that he would always be there, that I didn’t need to make special note of those moments that we all pass, comfortable in each other’s presence, just breathing together, living life. The memories whiz past at warp speed, and I am unable to capture even one. Instead I get glimpses â€“ a giggle, a pat on the bum, sitting in a Chinese in Toronto restaurant planning our lives on a napkin.
I was on the high school soccer field last night watching Olivia play her first game of soccer since her knee surgery last October and realized that Arron had never seen her play soccer, that she started playing only after he died. That thought struck me hard, in the gut really, as I watched another father dance around the field shooting pictures of his daughter scoring a goal. Arron has never seen his daughter score. Shit. Nine years and there it is, ready to kick me in the gut if I let it. I am good at stomping on it, pretending its not always there, ready in the wings.
I have been asked to speak tomorrow night, at a fund raising BBQ where I am worried that people will be ill-prepared to have me there, to hear my story on this day of all days. I dread seeing the sideways glances as they seek an escape. I know I have the power to inspire, to convince people that death and loss is not always a terrible thing, but I wonder if I can do it on this day, when I remember that Arron has missed yet another year. How do I expect someone else to remember when all I want to do is forget?
Considering the world seems to keep warping the meaning of “Never Forget” intoÂ a message for revenge, I am left to remember what was lost â€“ Arron. My husband. The kids’ father.
I was going through some old letters that we wrote each other while I was living in Australia and found this. He was a prankster and one of his favorite pranks was to convince people that he was a British spy. Reading this now, given what happened is all too spooky:
By the time you get this letter I will be long gone. Since we last spoke, certain unforeseen events have taken place and a great shadow of misery and death surrounds me. I am alone in a chaotic world of international crime, the foundation of which have been torn asunder and burned from within. My heart reeks with shame and the ashes of my blackened soul leave little for redemption.
As I once tried to explain to you, I am employed by the British Secret Service as an operative and it is in this capacity that my downfall has come about. Accused of many crimes, I am forced to leave the country. I am so sorry as this affects our plans to be together again. I’m afraid we will never meet again. As I sit here, my eyes filled with tears, I wonder if not death itself would be fitting of someone carrying such weight.
Oh, great stinking, vicinal (?) sad heart. Oh, this fetid, bilious flesh that doth fall from my greiving buttocks. I shall burn in almighty hell. I shall fall heavily upon my weighted brow, for shame is my lot and I should be left to rot.
Oh, sweet princess, Queen of light and beauty of begotten souls. Bid me a small prayer that my passage into darkness might not be completely unwarranted. I will always remember you.
And in another letter:
My little hazelnut,
What a fab day. Man, it’s like spring these days. I got a good night’s sleep and having read what I wrote last night, I should tell you that my heart is still yours and always will be. Yes, I am lonely for my chicken and would happily have you again at any point in time. Writing letters you won’t get for some time is weird to say the least. I haven’t edited any of them, just written what was in my head and my heart so if doesn’t work for you as you are today then maybe some other time.
I lay in bed for 1/2 an hour this morning and daydreamed about us together. It was real nice. We held each other with our legs all intertwined and I ran my fingers through your hair and told you how I wanted you and how much I had dreamed great passionate tales of Robin Hood type romances. I love you so much, you are the world to me and all its riches lie in your beautiful big heart. I will always be yours.
I am not sure what all this is saying, just another way of remembering him, this time in his own words.