The Ides of April

I was born on the 102nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Exactly fifty-five years after the Titanic sank.

A day feared and dreaded by Americans. Tax Day. April 15. The Ides of April.

Lincoln and the passengers on the Titanic actually had their fates sealed on the 14th - the president received his bullet, and the ship its iceberg, late at night - but both expired in the early hours of the 15th.

Two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon the day I turned 46. I live near Boston, but I was in New York City when it happened, at an art museum. I learned about the tragedy on Facebook. When I was checking in to see who had remembered my birthday.

Wikipedia lists 44 notable events as having occurred throughout history on my birthday. Most involved war and conflict.

I'm beginning to wonder. Have I been infected with some strain of sadness from history? Is that why ghosts seem intent on hovering around my day?

I'm sure plenty of good things have happened on April 15th. I just don't know about them.

I've come close to discovering some. For instance, exactly six days after I was born, Stalin's daughter arrived in the U.S., after defecting from the Soviet Union. She was happy to be here. By the time I read about her in a magazine many years later, though, she had fallen on hard times and died.

I do share the day of my birth (but not the year) with Leonardo da Vinci and Emma Thompson. Pretty cool individuals. That's something, I guess.

I wonder: do people maybe have a tendency to remember mainly the bad stuff that happens, and just put those things down in the record books? Do we maybe obsess over suffering? Or are we just too busy enjoying the good days to keep any record of them?

Maybe it's the same for your birthday. Or maybe the stars have determined many more happy coincidences for you.

But maybe it all means something, this pursuit by misery, without being touched by it. I've been fortunate. Could it be a reminder, to be grateful for the life I have?

After all, the Ides of March may fall on the 15th, but the Ides of April doesn't. It falls on the 13th. Lucky me. 

Patrick D. Joyce