Thank god it’s 9.12. This morning we commemorate that morning six years ago when we all woke up, if we had slept, or slept fitfully, and for a waking breath everything was the same. Coffee, paper, jump in the shower. Then, say it isn’t so, it hit. Despite groggy hope, we remembered what had happened the day before, 9.11.2001, our national Alive Day.
Nine-eleven, is now a very real quatro-syllabic number, a fulcrum of before and after, that second when the tide does shift. The day was excruciating this year, the new longest day of the year. The day was tropically muggy and on TV all day the military junta was laying out the fantasy league so-called surge. A dirge.
In other years, before the anniversary of 9.11, I had prepared, steeled myself to the sadness, made plans to be with a neighbor whose firefighter husband had been killed. This time, like soldiers in Iraq, I was unarmored; I had let my guard down. By 2p, I was restless and sad, claustrophobic in our apartment across the hall from new neighbors. I could not read one more tediously brilliant article about how bad it is. The war, the sub-prime mortgage rolling disaster, the trifecta of hypocrisy – Foley, Vitter, Craig. Such as.
That was when I remembered a small notice in the Sunday paper of a memorial service for Molly Ivins, at the Ethical Culture Society Hall scheduled for 4p on, of course, 9.11.
Never have I been happier to go to a memorial service. The soggy, sad crowd slogged in while a montage of photos of Molly – a long leggy sailor; smiling aunt hoisting a gleeful niece; wide-mouth, head back laugher; placard-carrying, hell-raising protestor; wheelchair bound, bald and mugging in a FOX news cap, receiving an award – looped on a screen onstage.
Calvin Trillin, Maya Angelou, John Leonard, Gail Collins, Kathleen Chalfant, and Lou Dubose, spoke of Molly as friend, writer, editor, story-teller, river rafter, partier, bawdy Texas babe and activist. They all quoted her hilarious lines. It was she who, Cassandra-like in The Texas Observer had warned of being bushwhacked by the Shrub from Texas. She wanted to live to see George Bush out of office, but she died from the breast cancer she had lived with for years.
There are memorials and there are memorials. As I shuffled out into quagmire of New York, I felt re-energized by the buoyant life of Molly Ivins, my co-columnist at The Progressive magazine for twelve years. She practiced the power of political satire and activism. Thank goodness for Molly Ivins.