Today means nothing to you and it will probably remain that way throughout the course of your life. Today will be something you read about in class that sounds sad but doesn't seem to matter much anymore. You do not understand why every flag we drove by this morning was at half mast, "Never Forget" does not stir up images of burning buildings and ash-covered survivors running the streets in panic. Your biggest concerns today are nursing, naps, and getting plenty of time to practice walking. Today is no different than any other day in your short life, but it's different for your mama.
Fourteen years ago I was running late for school when I walked by the couch and noticed my own mother crying at something she was watching on T.V. I saw the smoke and the ticker at the bottom of the screen--New York City--and wondered why she was so upset. We didn't know anyone in New York. I was just a week and a half shy of my twelfth birthday, and I didn't yet understand what I do now--the world is ugly and full of hate for no good reason at all. And days like today, mothers can't help but feel guilty for bringing children into it because it seem to keep getting worse and WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MY BABY?
I am not trying to make today about something it's not. I'm trying to explain that today touches all of us. Even you, Edie. Because today is the day your mommy woke up a little girl and went to bed a grown woman. Today is the day she learned people hate for no reason and hurt others worse than an innocent shove on the playground--in ways they can't take back.
And today, this year, is the day I fear this day for you. It might not be 9/11, but I know it's coming. One day the world will steal your wonder and those beautiful brown eyes won't be able to unsee what they've seen. And you'll ask me question after question and I'll have to just hold you against me and tell you, "I don't know, Edie. I don't know why."
I dread the day you get picked on on the playground and come home with your sweet little soul crushed and confused. But I dread the day the world outside of you shatters and you question whether being good matters even more. Because I know that day is coming, and I feel the weight of trying to convince you that it's worth keeping your heart open, that darkness doesn't reign, despite everything you've seen. I feel that weight and pray I am able to carry you to the other side broken but not paralyzed.
You are so lovely, Edie, but soon you will be faced with things that are not. Hold on to your fire, sweetheart. Fight the bad with the good. Weep for whatever happens and to whom it happens, but keep your soul. That's all we can do. We can't know why, but we can hold onto our souls and let them steer us in how to respond.
I love you,