That's the question my 6-year-old asked me over breakfast this morning. "Thursday," I replied, head bent over Asher's oatmeal slop, scooping up another bite. Elliot looked up at the calendar, searching for the date. Dates matter to us now that we're in countdown to move stage. Dates are a big deal. "So. . . that means it's. . . .," he hesitated, eyes scanning the calendar. "September 11," I interrupted, not needing any calendar to tell me the date. His eyes lit up and he said, "That means we move in exactly one week!" He and Audrey did a little happy dance in their breakfast seats and Asher clapped because excited kids means excited baby.
To them it's one week before we move. To those of us alive in 2001, it's a life marker, separating our memories, our understanding of the world, our place in the world, our assumed rights as Americans, into before and after. It's the day everything changed.
Before 9/11. After 9/11.
One day changed everything.
We know where we were. We know how our heart rates skyrocketed in fear as our hearts dropped in sadness and anger and disbelief. We remember the tears. We remember the shock. We remember the heroes. So many heroes. We remember the aftermath of people coming together and people reacting inappropriately out of fear and ignorance.
I remember all of that today with a heavy heart as our world looks scarier now than it did then. Uncertainty looms overhead like a storm cloud barreling in. I have no more answers than I did thirteen years ago.
So, for now, I'm glad that September 11 is one week until we move to Audrey and Elliot. I'm glad they live in the safe, naive world inhabited by children who are too young to know and lucky enough to feel safe in their homes. Isaac lives in an in-between world where he knows there is plenty of evil in this world and has rudimentary knowledge of 9/11, but doesn't yet see how it could hurt him. All three of them will have their own before and after. Their own day that changes everything. I can't keep that from them. It'll come in its own time.
When that day comes, depending on how old they are, we will talk about it and pray about it and cry about it and hug a lot.
We'll talk about evil and hate, fear and intense pain, of course. But more than that we'll talk about love and unity, friendship and faith. Maybe we'll talk more about Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa. Maybe we'll talk about the beauty and kindness in the world and how it can't erase the evil in the world, but it can at least dampen the flames of hatred in the hearts of some people. How it can make the world a less scary place to be. Maybe we'll just sit in that quiet place of pain and worry and let the tears speak and the hugs comfort.
Today is September 11. One week until we move. And so much more.