As the Soothsayer foretold, poor Caesar should have listened.
I have a similar reason to note this particular date too. It’s funny but I hadn’t read Julius Caesar until I was in the Fourth Form – I was fourteen at the time. I remember Sister Maureen (all 6 foot of her) distributing copies with bright shining eyes – she adored a gripping page-turner and for her, Brutus’ betrayal ranked most highly as treacherous, murdering souls go, so a page-turner this most definitely was, for her at least.
As we read through Act I, Scene ii and we came across this most infamous line, she stopped and asked us if anyone knew what it was referring to. I had no idea, but raised my arm anyway. I’m an Hermione and always have been, eager to participate in every available moment for discussion, conversation or ‘q and a’ session.
As usual, I was passed over at first as by this time, a whole term into the school year, almost all of my teachers had sussed this out about me. They usually asked someone else first, unless no-one had their hands up. I waited impatiently, waving my hand slightly to emphasize the fact that I had a contribution to make that was probably earth-shatteringly important and needed to be aired. Pick ME! PICK ME!!! I screamed, silently.
Finally, of course, she gave in and asked me to speak. I have no idea why I answered the question correctly, for I did not know anything about it, had never even heard the phrase before.
‘Is is the date Sister? The date being referred to as the Ides of March?’ I blethered, ‘Only, I don’t know what date that might be!’ I added, as a kind of apology at the end.
Sister Maureen paused momentarily before beaming benignly in my direction. There it was – my manna from heaven. I’ve always relished any kind of praise, wherever or whom-so-ever it comes from. I was happily basking in my glow of lionization and I almost missed the confirmation of the actual date.
‘Yes, Elizabeth, you’re correct! the date in question is the fifteenth of March.’ She beamed towards me.
Kerr-ang! Crash! Wallop! My reverie was literally shattered as this date, etched into my brain for almost ten months, the date I had remembered daily in all that time was apparently one and the same as that in which Caesar was being warned to avoid! I could not believe my ears.
For this was early January, 1976 and I was fourteen, learning to enjoy the convent boarding school where I had been dispatched to at the start of the school year. I had been an orphan for almost ten months, since that day, the previous year, when my mother had passed away.
For me, the Ides of March have always held this meaning. The day when my mother died. She was alone at the time, lying in her bed in a hospice. Abandoned by her family. By all three of the children she bore. By all who had loved her and lost.
Of course, as those of you who will read her story when I finally finish it will know, there were very good reasons for her loneliness.
But I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Dying alone.
And so, on this day, the Ides of March, I think of her and remember her. As I have done for thirty-nine years.
Maybe, reading this, you might think of her too. I’m sure she would appreciate it.
Thanks for reading.