Airplanes crashed into buildings in a city I have never been to and in another city close to where I was born.
I didn’t know how to tell you about this, or when, but you came home from preschool and informed me, Planes crashed into buildings in New York and people died. I called director of the school right away. Surely terrorism isn’t appropriate curriculum at such a tender age. Let’s stick to ABCs and 123s.
She agreed, but was helpless.
Time doesn’t move backwards. The first traces of this story had already, indelibly, run tracks in your mind.
You are growing and now you must learn a terrible lesson.
For you, September 11th is Patriot Day. A holiday from school uniforms, when you sport your Fourth of July tee shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers. This year your shirt is emblazed with an American flag made out of baseball bats and balls. A fire truck will visit your school and you will present the heroes with red, white, and blue paintings you created.
For me, September 11th is September 11th.
It took a long time to come up with a name and a story for that day. When you first mentioned Patriot Day, I didn’t know what you were talking about. Until I saw the date. Still, I am your mother, which means I am also your first storyteller. I will participate in the lesson.
What does patriot mean? I ask you on the way to school.
You don’t know.
It means someone who loves their country.
Our country. Our world. What lessons lie ahead? The stories of yesterday, are they worst than the stories of today?
You catch snippets of the news before we can flip a channel or usher you out to play. I know that you will take these eavesdropped clippings and construct a story. We all do. That’s what it means to be human. The most essential part of our unique brain is that we make up stories. We can’t help it. We strive to comprehend.
Before you were born…
airplanes crashed into buildings.
But the important thing for you to know, the really, truly, most important thing for you to know is this:
The moment you were born, that very moment,
love crashed into this world.
I know; I was there. It thundered like the roar of a lion, the stampede of elephants, the shattering of glass, and the melting of metal. And on your breath, baby boy, I smelled it, I tasted it in your very first kiss:
You brought hope.
And that is where this story begins.