I wanted to title this post, “A Duty to Remember”, but those words have already been taken…written about in eloquent fashion by Ziya Meral in a thesis titled A Duty to Remember? Politics and Morality of Remembering Past Atrocities.

Before writing about art or music or time spent at the pond…before making observations of even the present moment, I bow my head and pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones on September 11th fourteen years ago.

In 2005, I launched this blog and I’ve been writing pretty consistently ever since.  Often bloggers grow weary of the act and abandon their writing after some time.  Surprisingly, this has not happened with me.  The morning of September 11, 2005, I wrote these words…

Posted on September 11, 2005

I was spinning my wheels that morning. There were things to get done as always and so I busied myself with those rituals when one of the children called upstairs to me, “Mom, what is the World Trade Center?”

As I remember it, I stepped out from the bathroom, into the hall where I could see the television clearly. A voice said, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.”

As I set myself down on the couch, a plane hit the second tower. Smoke and flame billowed heavenward….it was truly something that seemed unbelievable. It remains so.

It is very early in the morning. I’ve just come in from the studio…it is only right that I should remember in the silence of this first bit of morning the many who lost their lives and the families they left behind, shattered and rebuilding to this day.

I also notice what I was painting at the time.  In fact, I was pouring my heart into a series titled, My Heaven Series.  I was recording landscapes where I had, over fourteen years, walked my beautiful border collie, Laurie-dog.  I completed this series as he was growing old and unwell and just before observing his horrible death and growing in acceptance of his passing. Those walks overlooking the Bow had been our ritual for fourteen years. It was the beginning of the end of my painting for commercial galleries because after sending photographs to one of these galleries, the art dealer said, “Too much sky.”  I felt those three words stab me.  And I knew that the ‘business’ of painting was killing me.  My post…about painting My Heaven Series, here.

Being in My Head

Posted on September 21, 2005

There is really little else going on…..but the music and the painting. When I sit for my short breaks Laurie-dog sits beside me and I scratch behind his ear. That’s how simple things are. I’ve poured myself a glass of Dad’s homemade Shiraz. This will make the next round of work more festive somehow. Perhaps I’ll play Santana and rev things up a little. I take the children to watch Santana this Saturday. The tune…Make Somebody Happy comes to mind right now. I’ve added a photograph album of my space. I call my studio The Chapel….so I now have my space in this space. This concept makes me smile.

Heaven in My Studio

Heaven in My Studio

How do I find that these two posts are connected…and why do I write of memory? Very often when we are grieving or suffering loss or trauma, other voices speak to us, meaning well, but delivering messages like these.

“We have only the present.”

“Don’t live in the past.”

“Let go.”

“Move on.”

“That is history.”

“In time, you will heal and you will focus on today.”

Our personal losses; the loss of a marriage, the death of a loved one, the end of relationship, the death of a pet, leaving one place for a new place may pale in comparison to the atrocities that are our collective memory, loss and trauma, but we still need the respect from others, to remember. Memory is what we are left.

On September 11, we have a ‘duty to remember’ and I take directly from the Ziya Meral thesis, these words…

Duty to Remember
Our collective, the human family, continues to reel from the atrocities of genocide, war and crimes against humanity. Whether we are writing/speaking/thinking about reservation schools, colonization, sins of ‘the religious’, the death camps, torturing of detainees…and the list goes on…we have a duty to remember.  And consequent to that, we have a duty to change.  We have a responsibility to live our lives differently.  Today, I remember.

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