This morning I woke, as I'm sure so many in America did, with thoughts of a different September 11. Though I was relatively unaffected by the events of that tragic day, I can't help but think of those with greater losses, those who don't have the luxury of simply marking an anniversary. For some, every day brings reminders of those terrible events. I'm thinking of them today.
I wondered if it was time to talk to the girls about this part of America's history. We have been tackling some difficult subjects over the past few years, touching on racism and the Holocaust in age-appropriate ways. And we have read this great book about Philippe Petit and his walk between the towers. My hope is that it will lay a foundation of hope for a future discussion. But since I am not forced, like so many were those first few days, to explain the unimaginable to my little ones, I am choosing to wait until they can see beyond the fear to the facts.
The girls were so small that day, seven years ago. But I remember reading advice for how to contextualize these events for children. Instead of focusing on the evil or the tragedy, psychologists said, encourage your children to look for hope in the heroes. From the rescue workers who ran toward the falling buildings, to those who hosted waylaid commuters until they could find their way home, there are good people all around. I found this advice to be helpful for me too as I tried to process this enormous event. Most of the citizens in our country, myself included, had been remarkably sheltered from this kind of traumatic event (goodness knows much of the rest of the world could one-up us if they tried), and it helped to focus on the ways communities came together instead of trying to comprehend the mindset it took to wage this terror. And I loved seeing how those impulses for good were multiplied in my own life and the lives of those around me.
In the last few weeks, I have heard several pleas to sign up with the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. No one in my family has ever needed a marrow transplant, but it didn't take much imagination to picture how desperately I would want to find a match for them if they became ill. And when I heard how easy it is both to register (a cheek swab is usually all that's required) and to donate (often almost as simple as blood donation with all expenses paid), I was ready to jump onboard. But I kept putting it off because of the small fee required to evaluate my sample. Today, I called to see if there were any sponsored drives in my area and it turns out that Nascar is sponsoring anyone who signs up, um, through October I think. I don't care about the deadline, because I already signed up. And you shouldn't care either, because you should stop right now (I know you're online already) and spend the 10 minutes it takes to sign your little self up. (The link for the Nascar drive is on the lower right-hand corner of the main page, but I'm sure they'd still use your money if you have some extra lying around.) You may not be up for running into a burning building, but you could save someone's life all the same.