I finagled a free month of HBO from my cable company so I could watch When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. This four-part documentary, directed by Spike Lee, aims to be the “documentary of record” for the horrific events of August 29, 2005, and the days and weeks and months thereafter.
What can I say? It’s an amazing television event that shouldn’t be missed. Acts I and II aired last night. Tonight you can see Acts III and IV. And all four acts will be seen Tuesday, Aug. 29 (8 p.m.—midnight), the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
I wasn’t blogging a year ago, but I can only imagine what was being said in the blogosphere. Last year, I was at home with my then newborn daughter as she recovered from heart surgery, gripped to the TV watching the so-called rescue efforts in the Gulf Coast region. And all the while, I was thinking how thankful I was that I did not have this baby in New Orleans considering how much medical attention she needed in her first three weeks of life. Selfish as that may sound, not a day goes by that I don’t think about all the people—mostly black, mostly low income—who lost everything and are still displaced.
So as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina rolls around, I find it ironic I had completely forgotten that Ella had her surgery a year ago. Maybe that’s a blessing, and a testament to how well she’s doing. My mother’s birthday was also on the same day—I barely managed to get a gift in the mail. She said something about Ella’s surgery two days after and I was taken aback. In some small way, I’m glad that I didn’t spend the anniversary of Ella’s surgery in mourning. As my husband says, “She lived, you know,” which is his code for not dwelling on what might have been.
Both events, which seem worlds apart to me, are reminders that no day is promised. But I hope that with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I can put my anxiety into action: make a donation, see what I can do in my area, get involved, vote our current set of knuckleheads out of office, and as always, write-write-write about it.
Watch the documentary. Never forget, but always honor.