By Tracy M
Last night I was writing a memorial to a man killed in Tower 1 at the World Trade Center on that awful day five years ago, as part of the 2,996 Project. Researching this piece was emotional, and writing was difficult: this was a real man, with real children, a family, hopes and dreams, he was senselessly killed, and I volunteered to memorialize him. Tears kept springing to my eyes as I tried to strike the right tone of respect, reverence and humility.
While writing, my just-turned-five son Jeffrey kept coming in, being boisterous and distracting, like boys his age will- and I finally explained to him that I was writing something very important, and I needed to think, without answering questions about Transformers or Lego, just for a minute. He asked me why I was crying…
And so it was time to open Pandora’s Box. How do you explain to your innocent child what happened five short years ago? How do I tell him that he was 13 days old and I sat shaking with fear and disbelief in the pre-dawn as I watched the news, having been up soothing his hungry newborn cries? How do I explain there are bad people in the world, people who think killing others brings them glory? What do I tell my son about the daddy I am memorializing who left behind three sons with his wife?
Using simple words and looking for his cues as to how far to answer, I tentatively ventured forth on untried ground. I told him about the man I was posting on, how he had been at work and the building he was working in was knocked down by bad men. How mama? We fly a lot, and I don’t want him to be frightened of travel, but I also want to be honest, so I tell him about the bad men and the airplanes. His eyes are like saucers, and I wonder if I have done the right thing… Is there a right thing? I should not have to tell my children about such monstrous acts in the world… But I do.
We talked about airplanes, and what we do now to be sure we are safe. We talk about the buildings, and why they fell, and how sad we all were, and still are when we think of that day. He asked me to see the buildings, so I found myself, child in my lap, clicking though images already burnt in my mind, from the CNN website. I carefully chose which ones to show him, and we talked about each picture.
When we were done, he wanted me to read him what I had written; I did, and he asked if he, too, could write about the nice man. Crayons and paper were brought out, and sitting on my desk is a child’s drawing, with the crayon words “Jimmy D loved football and his boys”, over a long skinny rectangle with scribbled smoke rising from the top. Every time I look at it, I cry.
I wish I knew where to put it. Like most things from that day, there is just nowhere to file them away. And so we cry.
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