September 11th

P1020171It is my birthday, on what must be one of the most famous, or infamous, dates of the year. I’ve always liked my birthdate: I like odd numbers. Coincidentally all our houses have had odd numbers, both children have odd dates for birthdays as does John. It feels like a nice chunky number and for me September is a beautiful month, half summer, half autumn and intensely poignant with the dying of the light.  I loved school and didn’t really mind going back, but when my children were small I found their return to uniform and closed in shoes all too metaphorical. I missed their summer freedom and (guilty pause) when we took them away during term time, the words “It’s only school” were heard to pass my lips. I don’t regret it. School is important but family and making memories is more so.

I know several other people with the same birthday. A rather gorgeous leggy teenager called Lucy G and a poet called Sarah Salway. I know DH Lawrence was born on September 11th 1885. Apparently Johnny Vegas and someone called Moby also share my birthday. I looked them up. President Allende of Chile was deposed and shot himself forty years ago today plunging Chile into years of dictatorship and oppression. I heard that on Radio 4 last week. Mary Oliver my favourite poet was born on September 10th. She got that wrong.

However most people will associate September 11th with the attack on the Twin Towers. Our media saturated world means that story will run and run. No one could deny the pain of those who lost family and friends and it’s important to remember those lives and their loss. However when I began thinking about this post I was thinking of all the babies who were actually born that day and how so many more wonderful events occurred than could ever be reported. Can that equation be made? Not on paper but it’s my blog and my head and my birthday and I am making it.

I came across a website http://www.birthdayspirit.org/ to help those of us blessed with this birthdate celebrate in a new way. Apparently some people feel unable to mark their birthday on The Day. Others got married on 11/9/2001 and now feel eclipsed – wrong word – but that they got off on a wrong footing. Bless them.

Some of it is all too American for me, baking cakes for firefighters, having an extra candle on your cake for those lost, but one of the themes that struck home to me was a call, not only to remember the many dead, but the determined heroism of those who saved so many more lives that day.

“Tomorrow is the 12th Anniversary of the largest and most successful rescue effort in history. It is estimated that anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 people were successfully rescued and removed from the World Trade Center Towers prior to their catastrophic collapse. The collapse of the twin towers killed 2,977 innocent people, including 343 firefighters, 23 Police Officers, 37 Port Authority, who went in the buildings to rescue more people and to put out the fires. Please take a moment to remember each of those 2,977 innocent lives that were lost, especially the firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics and Port Authority . But also take a moment to rejoice the 10,00 to 14,000 lives that were saved by fire and police officers that responded to the attacks 12 years ago.”    Yes, I will.

I heard Lee Evans the stand up comedian talk about his acting career and his achievements. He said despite playing to 20,000 + people at Wembley Arena, he is a very shy person who struggles to believe his luck. He writes and paints and lives his life to the full. He said ” At least I don’t kill people – I make them laugh.” He adds to the joy of the world. It’s all a question of balance and where we give our attention.

Now, where’s my cake?

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