Ten years ago, C. was eight days shy of his first birthday. We were a little less than two weeks away from his big first year birthday bash. I was a magazine editor in New York City, working from home most of the time and traveling into midtown Manhattan just once a week.
That Tuesday I was supposed to go into the city, but for a now-forgotten reason, I didn’t. Instead, like most, T. and I spent the day in a surreal state, our moods switching from sadness to anger and back again as we tried to process what was unfolding in front of us on the television. And while the two of us were encompassed in a profound state of sorrow, the reality was we had a happy toddler living in our house with us. A sweet nearly-one-year old who had no idea what was going on. That the country he lived in would never be the same. Who didn’t know why his parents were weeping or that his godfather and mother’s cousin were NYPD officers that we couldn’t get in touch with. (They were fine.)
So through our tears and our worries and host of emotions, we tried our best to entertain our happy toddler, playing and singing and coloring and skipping and acting like everything was normal. Even though it was the furthest thing from it. In the days that followed, it was more of the same, our happy parenting nothing more than a facade.
Ten years later I find myself in a similar position. I’m always sad on September 11, but this year even more so. I don’t know if it’s the magnitude of the anniversary or that the coverage has just been more ramped up than in pervious years, but I’m definitely more reflective this September. And yet what am I doing this morning instead of watching the coverage from Ground Zero? Watching Blue’s Clues. Playing cars. Seeing how high I can jump. Giving as many extra hugs and kisses as my kids will let me.
And as my happy toddler jumps around in his self-chosen mismatched outfit, as he giggles and shrieks and plays with his brother and sister, as my three kids spend the morning simply loving one another, I am reminded of why I don’t forget.