I’ve been thinking about how to mark the 9-11 anniversary. I want to take my lesson from the ordinary people in the towers and the planes. The last words in phone calls, simple endings: “I love you.” I’ve thought about who I’d call in my last minutes and resolved to write them now instead. Because death can be unexpected. Because it’s a good thing to hear and to say. Because it’s the only way I know to tell the dead I’m sorry.
Today, I’m going to wrangle the kids into the kitchen and make cookies. On Wednesday, we’ll take them to our fire station and say thank you. Thank you for going out in all sorts of weather, into all sorts of situations, for risking your lives, for training and working and waiting just to help.
We’ll talk while we cook about the rescue workers who ran towards the scene that everyone fled. We’ll talk about the way the world’s greatest evil is answerable only by constant small good. I’ll tell them that for every one person willing to fly a plane into a building, there are entire teams that rush into its wreckage to help. We will determinedly see the helpers amid the killers, the hundreds working to repair what a few destroyed.
And then we’ll take our little offering to the workers nearest us- to the emergency room nurses and the EMS. We’ll say “thank you” and we’ll go home. I can’t promise my children a peaceful or even a safe world, but I can offer them my personal truth that darkness does not extinguish light, but calls it into stark relief. I can tell them that we can be brave when we are not safe and strong when we seek peace. I can teach them that creation is the answer to destruction and that hope is our response to despair.
I can say “I love you” right now.
I can teach my children to do what they can even if it starts as small as a cookie.