Explaining 9/11 by Sahmatwork

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In September of 2001, I was a new Mom. My daughter, Thinker, now 9, was only about a year old then. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I’d have to explain to her, in 2010 the tragedy that our country experienced on the 11th of that month, of her first year.

The 11th of this month came and went without much patriotism in our home. We usually do mark Labor Day, Memorial, the 4th and Sept 11th with some kind of family prayer, visit to a cemetery or at the very least discuss with the children what these days mean, and how lucky and proud we are to be Americans.

The 11th was busy I suppose. My husband and I planned to have a date night and attend a school parent function in the evening and the day passed us by without so much as an explanation of 9/11.  It’s not that we had forgotten, (who could), but that we didn’t mark the day as a family.

On the 12th, at Mass, thankfully, our Parish Pastor, ever dutiful, helped us to remember those who lost their lives 9 years ago. As Thinker gets older and more mature, she really does pay careful attention during homilies, and it almost always incites some fascinating questions and discussions between me and her. I admit, I like that. She feels comfortable enough to ask me what’s on her mind, and think things through, as I guide her moral attitude towards different good and evils of our time. I can then laugh with her, contemplate with her, and yes, as I did after Mass, cry with her.

After the homily Thinker whispers in my ear, “Mom, what happened on September 11, 9 years ago? What is Father talking about?”

I leaned in to whisper in her ear, and then I realized, this will take more time then a usual quick answer. I told her, “Ask me after Mass, it’s a longer answer, okay?”

She nodded, and the Mass continued.

After the closing song, Thinker was still bothered, and questioned me again. I looked up at the large crucifix above me, and thought, what better place to tell her a painful truth of our nation’s history, but in the presence of God, in His church, and in a front pew, just me and her and the Holy Spirit.

My husband took the other kids and I began to describe the horrific events of that day 9 years ago, using only what information the news has given, and my own imagination as to the chaos and devastation it must have been. As I began to give her a summary of events, I saw her eyes well up, her checks flush red, and quickly, she brought her hand to her mouth and muffled her response of “Oh No!”

I told her, it’s okay to cry. I cried that day too. “It is a sad thing, honey. Thousands of people lost their lives. Not just those on the planes, people in the buildings, police and firefighters who went in to save others also died. It’s a big tragedy in our nation’s history.”

She leaned in against me and buried her head in her hands. It was a tough moment….for her and me. She asked, “Why? Why would people do this?”

Great question. Why is right. Why. All I could answer was, “There are people in the world who hate Americans, and they wanted to hurt us. And they did.”

I could see in her eyes this frightened her, and I didn’t want to leave it at that. I told her how airports now have a lot more security to ensure no one is bringing weapons on planes ever again. I told her what we can learn from such a terrible thing.

I reminded her what God has taught us, that we never know the day or hour that we will die. We never know when God wants us home, and we must always be ready. We must prepare our hearts and souls for that day, as we never now what day that might be. I asked her, “Those people who went to work that day, in the towers or as a firefighter, or on a regular airplane ride, …..do you think all those people knew that day would be their last? No one knows, honey. No one knows. We should pray for them, and ourselves, that we are truly ready to meet God.”

She said something then, which reminded me of her age and maturity, she said, “I bet a lot of Moms and Dads died right?”

I said, “Yes, I’m sure.”

She said, with still tears in her eyes, “Oh my goodness, I feel so bad for those orphans.”

“Yes, darling. You are old enough to know. Bad things can happen in the world, but we can pray, and know that God will take care of us, and those we love.”

As we walked out of the pew, we genuflected together, and with my arm around her shoulder, I said, “I love you, honey. It’s hard to hear some of these things, isn’t it?”

She nodded and I saw her try and swallow her tears in order to hide her feelings from passerbyers in the Church.

“Well, I’m glad we can talk about these things together, ….even if it makes us cry.” And then I stopped walking, remembering where we were and turned her around to look up at the crucifix above us….I pointed to the tabernacle, and said, “Honey, God is with us. I am sure He still cries about that day too.”

Copyright 2010 Sahmatwork

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