“Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game…”
September reminds us: No time for games
Those are some of the lyrics to “September Song”, a song that has been revised and sung by a multitude of musical talents over the years. It was originally composed by Kurt Weill for the Broadway musical,”Knickerbocker Holiday”. In it, an aging political dictator is attempting to persuade his much younger lover (who is in love with another young man) that her ambitions for young love are arbitrary, and that he hasn’t the time for such games. Part of me wants to ask this fellow, “What do you expect? She’s young.” But I certainly understand as I grow older what he means by the impending path of time. I turned 39 this September and while some would argue that is quite young, and rightly so, my life experiences of late and those nagging qualms and doubts of dreams unforeseen, have me relentlessly focused on those September days of life he so wisely spoke of.
It’s funny when we’re young, we’re at the center of our own little universe. We look forward to things like birthdays if you grow up in a Midwest, nuclear family like I did. You are most likely going to receive a birthday cake and ice cream, with some presents that are a pleasant surprise and family and friends around that you hopefully kind of like too. I’ve passed all of that now (she says in her most grown-up voice), well, OK who doesn’t like gifts and even cake and ice cream still?! Ahem, what I mean to say is, as you age your expectations change–you’re more introspective, you’re taking stock. I’m not exactly where I’d like to be, and I don’t have the honor of saying I’m a mother yet but my brother and his wife were expecting their forth, on September 11th of all dates, and so close to my birthday…now THIS was something to look forward to!
My grandma is 90 and her health has been in somewhat of decline in recent years. She’s hard of hearing, her cataract surgery failed, and she’s a lot less mobile than she used to be. My visit with her in August was exhausting. I had never seen her in this condition; unable to go to the bathroom, shower, dress, write a check by herself. She fell out of bed once while we were there and even after telling her, she couldn’t seem to grasp the concept. She thought we were all pretty silly for trying to convince her she was. Yes those September days have come and gone for my grandma. November and cold December are the days ahead. And yet, she’s here, and she’s still trudging along like the rest of us. She’s a fantastic lady. She asked about my brother’s baby every day, and we kept reminding her September was not here yet, not yet but close. We were playing the waiting game. All I hoped for was my grandma to live so she could hold my new baby nephew in this world. Tick, tick, tock goes the clock…
My birthday was nearing. My life, I’ll admit, has been a bit in shambles of late, and I went down to see my parents for a Labor Day pre-Birthday get together, just the three of us. It was Labor Day morning, when we got the call; my brother’s baby boy was born, but stillborn, dying a day or two before my sister-in-law had labor pains on Labor Day. I awoke to my only brother’s weak voice on the voicemail as he tried to get someone to pick up. My mom had answered and cried as she talked. I lay there, numb, trying to calculate the logic of it. I didn’t want to accept it. Why couldn’t they had saved him? Why did he die so close to his birth? He had been so active during my sister-in-law’s pregnancy. I was angry. Why didn’t they try to take him early? My questions had no answers, they didn’t know the exact cause except that the placenta was small and the umbilical cord was flat, though he was close to the size my first nephew was when he was born. I imagined him starving to death. I had to put it out of my mind. Hickory, dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock…
September 11th came and went. I promised myself I wouldn’t look at any pictures or media involving The Event. I did anyway. The History Channel had plenty of programming, and like the sucker I am, I inevitably watched the horror as it unfolded for so many of us that day in 2001. I thought about my baby nephew and how I wished he were here on his presupposed day of birth to make the day more joyous. But he too was gone. The limp bodies falling from the Towers looked like sad angels. Like the tin soldier in a picture book story we had long ago, falling head-first to his colorful but fiery death. I thought of my nephew and who he might have been one day. And it was this same night (or rather early morning as I’m a night owl), I discovered from a message my cousin had wrote to the family, that my great-uncle has been given that pesky old six-months-to-live- routine from his doctor. The clock struck one, the mouse ran down…
We all know that time passes, that it will end–we will end–one day. No warranty, no money back guarantee. Time has the final word. Thoughts of the afterlife are personal and it’s the gift of peace. But my thoughts are more pointed toward the time we have here for now. Make the most of it, carpe diem, time waits for no man–make it count, will you?! My nephew, those in their December days and those whose lives were cut too short, seem to beckon us to take heed. I’m listening–I hope you are too. Let our September days be peaceful in the knowledge that we lived. We lived.
“And the days dwindle down
To a precious few
And these few precious days
I spend with you.
These precious days
I spend with you.”
Hold my hand, little one, and we’ll walk the sands of time together~
Top photo: Rosmarie Voegtli, “rosmary”, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rvoegtli
Bottom photo: “Morgan Queen”, http://www.flickr.com/photos/morganqueen