Until a few years ago, the date November 22 meant little to me—only that it was time to make sure I’d figured out a birthday present for my father, whose birthday is November 28.
But ever since I began working on my biography of John Kennedy, I’ve always felt a strange emotion on November 22. That was the day he died—November 22, 1963.
My feeling isn’t sorrow, exactly…Kennedy was shot before I was born, and to me that event seems so historically inevitable that I don’t really feel sorrow.
It’s more of a sense of being reminded of the awesome workings of fate—how swiftly everything can change, how the most ordinary day can turn into a life’s turning point.
And this year, with Thanksgiving falling so early, that emotion has carried over until today. I’m grateful for all my good fortune. And I’m mindful of being grateful, too, for all the bad fortune that passed me by: the doctor’s report that came back “negative,” the near miss on a bridge on an icy road, the time the Big Girl dreamily walked out into the traffic on Park Avenue before I could stop her.
“She thought again of how dangerous it was to live even for one day.” –Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway