The sun found its lonely beams stretching through the window of my ice-cold room. Its rays extended, reaching through my numb face. Somehow, its gentle warmth woke me from my deep slumber. I open my eyes and thought, “it’s September again.”
Like a cold wintry morning, Billie Armstrong has seen the month of September as a time that passes by slowly; it felt heavy and suffocating trying to forget the marks and memories that his father had imprinted. He avoided writing about him for many years until his breakthrough came in the flesh. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day has become the annual internet meme that bitterly welcomes the 9th month of the year.
Most are unaware of the painful memory stuck in between the lines of the song’s lyrics. It was meant to express Billie’s grievances upon the passing of his father on the 1st of September, 1982, due to esophageal cancer. At that time, the songwriter was only ten years old. During his father’s funeral, he ran home crying and locked himself in his room. When his mother arrived, she knocked on the door, and Billie responded, saying, “Wake me up when September ends,” hence the song’s title.
His father’s passing felt like a wave, driven and tossed by the wind because of how the pain continues to linger on that painful memory, almost as if it just happened yesterday. When Billie wrote this song, it not only became an expression of negative emotions, but it became a release of misery that comforted him and allowed him to conclude that the song was in honor of his late father. While seeing different faces of the moon as each night passes by, we are reminded that every deep, dark, and shallow phase in our lives goes by, and a sun rising through the clouds on the horizon welcomes us to a new chapter.
Even if it often feels like we would risk exchanging our tomorrows to take even just a single yesterday, there is nothing more fulfilling than a life that seeks what is ahead. Billie Armstrong turned his sorrows into a commemoration for his love and admiration for his father, which freed him from the inevitable trouble of goodbyes.