Tick…tick…tick. Fifty years. A long time. To say a half century ago almost puts That Day into ancient history. Yet those of us who remember, remember where we were on That Day.
We think we understand how the rhythm of the universe is connected to time, but we really don't. The most we can understand is the rhythm of our own lives, and place it in the context of larger events.
Seared into our memories, then, are events of momentous change. As individuals we remember the certain day that changed our personal life, our family's life. As a nation, we remember certain days that changed our national memory forever. So it is with November 22.
I will always remember where I was and what I was doing on November 22. So will you, no doubt. But what about the day before? What was it like The Day Before?
Where I was
At the time, there were only 3 children, none yet in school. Life was so daily. Washing and cleaning. Cooking and eating, naptime and bedtime. Baths and books. A tired husband who worked outside and fell asleep on the couch after dinner. A dog shedding hair. A station wagon to pay for. I am guessing that was The Day Before. But memory is vague after a half century.
Then came the news. And with the news, the gradual knowledge that you will always ask and be asked: Where were you when JFK was killed? We ask it with a morbid fascination still. Something so momentous touches each of us as a nation.
It is those times that we acknowledge our ties to the universal clock's ticking. We are part of something larger than even our own lives when we remember where we were on this day.
And 50 years later, we still remember. We may forget the day our first gray hair appeared, or the last time we mailed a birthday card to a friend, or a thousand other things that make up our individual memories, but That Day shakes us.
And shakes us still. We of that generation, that once hopeful and younger generation, mark it in our consciousness. It froze the hands of our emotional clocks.
But time moves on. Where my parents were frozen by December 7, and our children by September 11, so we of a certain age think of that day as perhaps the end of innocence and belief. Perhaps our great-great grandparents thought the same when they heard that Lincoln was shot. And fifty years after, would any of them remember what they were doing The Day Before?
Memory, that needs a calendar to remind us of terrible times, forgets the ordinary, the daily life of The Day Before. And we forget as well, and remember only That Day.
It wakes us up to the blessing of life's regularity. We pray for more than "Our Daily Bread." We pray for normality, stability, the ordinary 24 hours.
It is the awful and horrendous time that teaches us to cherish the uneventful...The Day Before.
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