Saturday, September 10, 2011

Who’s to blame?

February 1, 2002

A cold drizzle blankets the Hackensack River and even from the parking lot of Secaucus High School on one shore, I cannot see the other shore which is lost in the mists.
The weather fits my melancholy mood, and despite the hopeful joy at the office over the possible demise of our competition, the Jersey Journal, I still mourn my mother.
Her death happened a month ago, part of a series of escalating tragedies that has left me feeling wounded: the terrorists attack on Sept. 11, 2001, the death of my hero George Harrison, and then the death of my mother.
The last is a wound that has grown deeper and more painful with the passing of days, a throbbing inside of me I can’t rid myself of.
I keep tying her death to the other public events, the World Trade Center, the resignation of the Hudson County Executive, the death of one of the Beatles, and now, the possible closing of a 135 year old newspaper.
My mother like many people around the New York area witnesses the attack on the World Trade Center, looking down across the gap of trees and the swirling lanes of the Lincoln Tunnel helix to see the ball of flame from the second strike, the smoldering from both towers and the eventual collapse.
Mentally ill from what I was an infant; she could not make sense of the tragedy.
“I can’t help thinking that it’s somehow connected to me,” she told me a few weeks after the attack when I visited her at the nursing home.
She also blamed herself for the legal trouble my former boss Joe Barry is suffering – she really liked the man – and she seemed to think the FBI arrested him because he gave her a low cost apartment in one of his buildings before she moved here.
“I’m to blame, I’m sure I am,” she said.
If she found any connection to George Harrison, it was only to sympathize with me since she knew how much I cared for him, and how much I ached over his passing until her death a month later gave me someone even more significant to mourn over.
My mother hated the Jersey Journal from some event that happened when she still lived in Hoboken. She seemed to believe that the sales staff had deceived her at one point. When I told her that I had once applied for a job at the place, she said I was lucky nothing had come of it.
Nothing had. The paper never made me an offer.
But that’s no reason to want to see it vanish, and all the tragedies swirl around in my head, as if I am to blame, even for my mother’s death – me not calling her that New Years’ weekend, when she died, my out-of-alignment back no excuse. What about the World Trade Center? Or George Harrison?
I used to sit on the stone benches outside Boarders with my notebook, jotting down critical descriptions of the capitalists I saw coming out of the building each night, mocking them for their greed and the society that bred them, and now, I feel their loss as if we are all caught up in the same whirlpool of pain, me, missing their faces, their memory haunting me just the way the twin towers haunted my mother – the same question boiling up inside of me: am I somehow connected?

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