On September 11, I took a picture of the contents of my pockets. Three items. A mask. A rubber glove. Crumpled tissues. This sums up my experience of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
THE MASK: Covid is surging again. The joyous “breakout summer” we hoped for turned into one visit (from my sons) and two road trips (MI and VT) for me. All good. I’ve started testing occasionally. I wear a mask for any indoor activity that might include an unvaccinated person or someone who is particularly vulnerable. I worry about “breakthrough” infection.
9/11 cost us about 3000 lives. The number of lives lost to Covid is so high. We lost 671 people this year on 9/11. Our Covid total is approaching one million, if you factor in some uncounted deaths, like those of people who postponed medical care. The official death toll is about 700,000. We’re numb from loss.
THE GLOVE: Early in the Covid shutdown, we wore rubber gloves because we feared contact infection. That turned out not to be a big problem. I now have a small gash on my thumb from carelessness in the kitchen. I’ve got a huge supply of gloves from earlier. I protect my hands from dishwater, dirt, etc. This is about getting old. The skin on my hands is easily nicked. I’m grateful that I can use rubber gloves whenever I want.
THE KLEENEX: I’ve been weepy. I listened to the Verdi Requiem live streamed from the Metropolitan Opera House on Saturday evening. The wrath of God. The pictures of the 9/11 memorial, with the lights on. The names of those who died. A woman’s name followed by “and her unborn child”. I cried. I just learned of another (non Covid) death, my good friend’s aunt, last of her generation. Funeral preparations. Covid interrupted our patterns of grief and commemoration, but I think this recent death will be ritually marked according to the traditions of the family.
So that was my 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.