My daughter was born on the first anniversary of 9/11, right as the hospital had a moment’s silence for the first tower falling. What was more unusual, especially for a first child, is that her due date was 9/11. In 2002, living in New York, that was a shocking answer to the excited question “when is your baby due?”.
Every time the sharp intake of breath, the “oh no” look (often inadvertently spoken out loud). The answer stopped all in their tracks. How could we ever celebrate anything ever again? On that day.
On September 11, 2001 the hospital my baby would be born in a year later prepared for thousands of casualties. Nurses walked from New Jersey across the GW bridge and downtown 100 blocks to be there to help. The casualties didn’t really come – just a few hundred in the end. But on Labor and Delivery, the babies kept coming. You can’t stop the force of new life.
My daughter’s arrival brought joy to an entire hospital that morning. As did every other baby born. And all the babies born on that tragic day. And the babies who will continue to be born. On that day.
We explained something of the events of September 11th, 2001 when she was 8. It was time. She asks questions now and then, especially at the moment. She is beginning to understand a few of the complexities. I am grateful for the fact that in the lives of those who love her, coexisting with our grief is always joy. Because the babies keep coming. No matter what.
Ten years is a decent passage of time on which to reflect. How far have we come? The collective anger and frustration many feel over our national divisiveness and lack of engagement with what really matters makes the anniversary all the more painful. A series of shocking natural disasters have added to our unease. I can no longer bear the torrent of navel-gazing and obsessing over what has and hasn’t happened since.
I choose to put my attention on what I can do.
I am honoring 9/11 by considering my 12.4 million brothers and sisters starving in the Horn of Africa by donating to the United Nations Central Emergency Fund. I am honoring 9/11 by considering my flooded and fire ravaged neighbors in the North East and Texas by donating to the Red Cross. I am honoring my daughter’s life by doing something. I invite you to join me, however that looks for you.
Every mother, every father, every loving aunt or uncle or grandparent or friend has the chance to hold our heads high, knowing we are doing something to create a different world for the children we love; for those babies who will continue to be born on September 11th. And on on every other day.
I am grateful you stopped by. Blessings to you and those you love. Hug them one more time. On this day.
Image: IXXI by Ultra Violet, New York artist and friend