It's funny, the things we believe — the reasons we have for believing those things. I read far too many ghost stories growing up, and I did said growing up in an old house which enjoyed nothing more in the evenings than to do a bit of noisy, spooky "settling." So, I believed in ghosts; I believed that our house had ghosts, although I had never seen one; and I believed that an old white cat named Ding could protect me from these ghosts. Could, and would.
I can't explain the logic, quite. I'd read in one of my scary-story compendia that, if you sense a ghost but can't see it, looking between an animal's ears in the direction of the ghost will render the ghost visible to you. But it's not like seeing a ghost will get rid of it, so I don't know why I believed that Ding served as a shield. I had to help her up onto the bed half the time (see above re: old), and once she got up there, she would sit and blink patiently until a bent knee presented itself for her to curl up tightly behind and fall asleep. Not exactly what you look for in the spirited-defense-against-the-restless-dead department — but I believed in it. We loved each other, that cat and I, and so I believed she would keep ghosts away.
I never saw a ghost (not in that house), so maybe she did.
Reading the paper today, a couple of things struck me — first, that the 9/11 coverage in the Daily News amounted to only a few pages (not counting a lifestyle story about a guy who grows "corpse flowers," which I would have to characterize as, at best, oddly timed). The lead story, in fact, talked a lot about how the anniversary is changing for victims' families, how some of them have started marking the date without going to Ground Zero, how it feels a bit different now that the five-year point has come and gone. It did feel a bit different today, out and about in the city; it seemed less hushed than in years past. I didn't get as anxious about taking a train over the Manhattan Bridge as I usually do on this day.
I leafed forward through the paper, thinking that surely I'd find more — more stories, more pictures — but I didn't, besides a few editorials, and the In Memoriam section of the death notices. And this is the second thing: the living didn't just write their memorials about the dead. They wrote them to the dead. "Another year passes. Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Gerald. Peace, Schulz." "Always in our hearts and prayers. Your loving aunts, uncles and cousins." "May you always walk in sunshine. Love always, Louie (Snapple) Florio."
"(Snapple)." Louie Florio wrote a comparatively lengthy paragraph about his late friend Daniel Suhr, a man he loved and admired. The writing is labored, but you can tell it's because it's important to Louie Florio that he get everything good about Daniel Suhr in there and get it right. And in case his friend sees it, and by some chance had another friend named Louie Florio, this Louie Florio made sure to include "(Snapple)." It is completely illogical for Louie Florio to believe that Daniel Suhr is reading the Daily News on the anniversary of his own death, or that he wouldn't know which Louie Florio wrote such lovely things about him if he were, but they loved each other, Daniel Suhr and Louie Florio, and so Louie Florio believes if he puts "(Snapple)" in there at the end, Daniel Suhr will know for sure that they're still friends.
And of course they're still friends. Louie Florio has the important part right.
Six years on, I wonder about Don. Six years, and no sign of him after that ferry pulled in and he went off towards it. Did I imagine him? Did I need someone to talk to, to walk with — someone, in short, like a friend — badly enough to conjure one? And so I believed in Don?
Unless and until he presents himself…no way to know. Maybe I did, but I don't believe that. Happy Anniversary on Earth, Don. Peace, Bunting.
Tags: city living friends September 11th