Fifty years ago today, I was turning eight years old. I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade, at James Madison Elementary. It's unlikely our class – or school – was given the news that the president had been shot at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, TX. It's probable I got the news from Uncle Walter, along with the rest of the nation.
From my point of view, there's been a lot of Kennedy talk the past couple of weeks. The media is mining all the gold it can out of this anniversary, with documentaries, made for TV movies, books, and radio specials by the score. I'm mature enough now to recognize an unfortunate coincidence. Just like the death of that other “Jack”, C.S. Lewis, or the fact that I share my birthday with several other luminaries (e.g., Hoagy Carmichael). Just an unfortunate coincidence.
But I was already a sensitive kid. I was an abused child, and I now believe that led to an anxious and fearful nature. My parents divorced when I was about five; my mother (the abuser) won custody for a time. My first six years are mostly lost to my memory, which is likely a blessing.
So I took the coincidental connection rather hard. There were at least a couple of years I chose not to celebrate my birthday. Though I've gained perspective, maturity, and a thicker skin through the years, some old emotions are stirred by the media's frequent reminders.
I am celebrating my birthday this year. I am making the choice to focus on the love and well-wishes shared by friends and loved ones. Still, I think it's a good thing I've taken the day off — if I descend into a “dark mood”, only my cat and I need endure it.