Remembering my friend; remembering everyone
Last year, I didn’t write anything about 9/11/2001. Even after all that time, it felt too tender; too close. It is now the seventh anniversary of that event, and it still seems fresh in my memory. There is much in the news, as there’s bound to be, about it all; presidential candidates honoring memories together; other politicians giving politically charged but hopefully respectful speeches; families remembering their loved ones in their own ways.
I did read some 9/11 blog posts last year, and commented on one which touched me. In his response, my blog friend suggested that I post about how I spent the very first anniversary of 9/11, back in 2002, and so I am, a year after that suggestion. This post is as much about my friend Anne as it is about the impact of 9/11 on those I knew. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Anne, who passed away on the last day of July of this year. Since then, a few people have asked if her memorial service has been held yet. I deferred asking the family, as they had deferred definitiveness. I figured there were family reasons for delaying it for so long; there are three children in the family as well as a couple of grandkids. Was it school? work? I learned that the service had finally been scheduled to be held more than two months after the death. I didn’t want to ask too many questions as I didn’t want to intrude, but I saw Anne’s husband the other day, and he explained it to me. Their daughter’s second baby is due this month, and she had been forbidden to fly, or even take long car trips this close to the delivery date.
Oh! Of course! Now I remember. When we had our last visit, Anne spoke of how excited she was about this new baby. She planned to fly up north where the baby would be born, to help out and get to know her new grandchild. How could I have forgotten this? So, the newborn will be making the trip next month and will be introduced to the home and memories of the grandmother s/he will never know.
What does all this have to do with 9/11, though? It was in planning our local memorial event in 2002 that I first really got to know Anne. She and I were both on the committee that organized our “Rolling Requiem”, a world-wide choral event which would begin, in each time zone, at exactly 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the first tower in September 2001. Instead of offering only grief and anger, this event would offer music; the most glorious choral piece the organizers could imagine; Requiem by W.A. Mozart. The word “requiem” refers to “Requiem Mass” or “Mass for the Dead” in Roman Catholic literature. But the words, and particularly the music, transcend all cultures and religions. If you saw the film or some settings of the stage play Amadeus, this was the music playing when Mozart himself lay dying.
The Rolling Requiem in 2002 was a tribute to all who lost their lives or helped others on that tragic day a year earlier. The choral group I sang with joined with other groups and individuals in our area to host over 350 singers for this day. (We normally have about 60.) Each of us wore a badge with the name of a person who had perished, whether rescuer, victim, or participant. The large concert hall space was donated (nearly unprecedented) and all the professional soloists and orchestra members also donated their time and talent (almost unheard of). It was broadcast on local television and radio, and nearly every timezone heard their own local choruses singing the same masterpiece as the Requiem rolled around the world.
Our choral group had never put together an event of such magnitude, and Anne was instrumental in getting everything organized and publicized. We only had four rehearsals before the day, and our director worked miracles in getting such wonderful sound out of such a diverse group—from high school age through senior choirs—in such a short time. Among the many memories I shared with Anne, this would remain close to both our hearts. I will always associate her with this day, this memorial time.
Blessings to all, of every culture, every belief system, and every political leaning as we pause for a moment in time to cherish each other and allow love into our hearts. Namasté; Peace; Salaam; Shalom.
“Imagine a world standing together to remember.
Humanity gathered for a moment in time,
to lift up its voice in song, in prayer,
in honor of those who perished one year before.
On September 11, 2002, it happened.”