Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama and the mixed emotions of 9/11

I'm not a New Yorker, in fact, I've never even been to New York City. Everything I write in this post must be read with that filter in place. I am, however, an American. I do recognize the New York skyline and for the past 10 years have struggled internally whenever I see that skyline reflected in a movie, a photo, or drawing. I struggle if the Towers are there because the piece is from before 2001, and I struggle if the Towers are gone.

I had no personal relationship to those who were murdered on 9/11. I know none of the heroes who attempted to rescue those in the Towers that day. I have no connection to any of the victim's families. None.

Now I'm going to say something that some could view as harsh, and I'm sorry if I offend anyone, but here goes. (This may be my first step toward angry comments... deep breath.)

I'm sick to death of hearing about 9/11. I'm sick to death of having my 14-year-old's birthday overshadowed by tragedy and death every single year.

There, I said it. I threw it out there where anyone in the world can see it.

I know there are many people who were born on that actual day, some who lost parents in the tragedy, parents they never met. I know my frustration and anger have nothing on those situations. I know that.

Still, as much as I love celebrating my daughter and her birthday, I dread September 11. Especially this year because of the 10th anniversary and how it is sure to be politicized for weeks before and after. There's a part of me that wants to scream, "It's not fair! It was her day for 5 years before that man and his cohorts decided to steal the joy of her day with his despicable acts. And for the rest of her life, she will fight to be able to celebrate her birthday."

Now with the death of Osama, I wonder if any of this will change. Mostly I think not. Like others who were born on similarly bad days for our nation, like Dec. 7th, I think my daughter is sort of stuck battling the grief/pain of others and the sadness of the nation on a day when I'd like her to simply celebrate her life. The death of Osama has opened up my anger again at the whole situation.

 I remember her 6th birthday when she was still so innocent regarding it all. The sweet comment that made me tear up, "Mama, does everyone celebrate my birthday? Because they even talk about September 11 on TV." and my answer? "Everyone who knows you and loves you is celebrating on September 11 because you were born that day, and we just can't stop smiling when we think of that. The people on TV are talking about a really sad thing that happened, though, but that has nothing to do with your birthday."

The next year? She saw a sheet cake at a bakery that had the Towers on it. Don't ask me what they were thinking in that bakery, a commemoration of sorts, I don't know, it had Cake Wrecks written all over it. Anyway, she said, "Mom, that's what my birthday cake should have on it, the Towers - because that's what happened on my birthday." Was I selfish for not wanting my 7-year-old to have to identify her birthday with the Towers?

I've met others whose children have Sept. 11 birthdays and the anger is somewhat there for them too. Although one mom did say, "There's something about those 9/11 birthday kids - they've got a sweet sensitivity about them, don't they?" And, I must admit there is definitely that in Lotte, so perhaps I should be grateful for that. Certainly, I'm grateful to even have my child, to be lucky enough not to have been personally impacted by such a horrible tragedy, but do I also have a right to be sick of it all?

Some have suggested actually changing her birthday or celebrating it on her half-birthday. I guess that makes me even more angry - that we'd have to change her celebration day because of what a terrorist decided to do. Lotte doesn't like that idea anyway and after all, why should she have to give up her birthday?

So yeah, I'm glad Osama is dead. I'm glad it's finally over in that regard. I guess I'm just hoping for a day when 9/11 doesn't overshadow the September 11 birthday of a really pretty cool kid.

And how about you? Do you have a similar story about a different day? Or, how do you feel about the death of Osama? Has it brought closure to you?


  1. My birthday is 4 days after 9/11. It messed up my 30th birthday plans. But having lost no one on 9/11 or in the subsequent war, I feel like I don't really have a right to complain. Now, if my daughter's birthday was on 9/11. I'd feel the same way as you. Take heart that Lotte was a child on the original 9/11 so she doesn't have the memories of the towers falling. I have a friend who is depressed enough on her birthday, now she gets all that goes along with having a birthday on 9/11. Comparatively worse.

  2. My birthday is Dec. 7th, and yes it gets better. People remember my birthday because of it, but how many years did it take? I don't have that answer. It was 26 years later when I was born, and it wasn't the media age like it is now. When it is 9/11/2027 will it better? I sure hope so. I still can't watch the broadcasts...I wonder if that is how they felt in 1941? 1951?

  3. Julie - Unfortunately, Lotte does remember the towers falling, she remembers the news coverage of that day, but you're right, probably not as much as an adult would have. Thanks for your comment.

    Heidi - Thanks for the comment. I hope it gets better for her, but think it will take time, like you say. Also, I think it may take longer because we are in the "media age," as you say.