Sunday, September 11, 2011

Look both ways, but cross the street

Dear Ittybit & Champ,

On this day ten years ago, at 8:57 a.m., I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the newspaper's office. Stunned. The radio station had stopped regular programming to announce a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. As I sat there, blinking at the announcer's voice streaming into my car, I thought a small plane had gone off course and struck the building. 

 I shut the car's engine off, ran upstairs and told the only other soul in the newsroom to turn on the television because a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. When the picture faded in, we watched as a second plane hit the other tower.

Clearly, this was no accident.

I don't think I've ever been so stunned or uncertain or quiet in my life. I couldn't really absorb what was happening. It was all just rushing around me like waves of ice cold water.

The day went on like that, and the feeling continued into the next, and the next and the next. Whole months went by in a fog. 

Things changed. People were nicer to each other (for a time). We made decisions because of (rather than despite) the tragedy. In my case, the hopelessness I felt made marriage and children important where it hadn't been before. It made YOU important. 

Then time wore on and we found ourselves in a war that seems meaningless; a war on the crime of terrorism that is as "winable" as the decades-long war on drugs. We find our constitutional rights eroded, and we accept it as the price of safety. We have gone from a nation united in tragedy to one that is divided by ideology. 

Ittybit, you attended your first day of pre-school on the fifth year of this tragic anniversary. As I kissed you and watched you greet your teachers, I wondered what will you ultimately learn from this new milestone, school? I wondered what legacy we are handing you and your classmates?

Since the Champ came along we haven't spoken much about the events that in so many ways made you both possible. Made your father and I rethink what it was we were doing together. Playing house? Pretending to be adults? What was the purpose if not to raise children.

Getting married and having children wasn't an act of defiance. It wasn't a political statement. It was the understanding that the rest of our lives started right that very minute and it needed to count. It needed to be more than just us. 

Nevertheless, we have come to realize the world we brought you into has changed in ways we can hardly comprehend ourselves.

I know you cannot be safe. None of us can. And yet I am a part of this collective anxiety in which our bodies respond to Code Orange as if it had meaning other than to instill fear and loathing. I want to put it all into perspective, but the constant coverage of what-ifs and could-bes makes it difficult to remain calm. 

Home of the free? The brave? It doesn't feel like it much anymore.

Perhaps this is my cause, lovies. Something I want for you more than anything else. To realize our time here is brief and some of it will be tragic. There will be sadness for which we cannot prepare, and yet we have to be brave. To not give in to fear or hatred because it is likely to lead us down the wrong path. 

I want to tell you to take chances, my beauties. Play in the mud and the muck and the paint. Get dirty. I want you to learn how to talk to strangers. I want you to come to love them, even when they prove to be imperfect. I want you to be aware that you are not alone in this world. Look around and take it all in. Take precautions, too, but don't let them take over. Look both ways before you cross a street, but cross the street. 

And please, little ones, try to play nice, OK? 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Siobhan.