We took Victoria to the 9/11 Memorial last week in New York. Here we didn’t talk to her about dolls, ice cream, and dancing. We introduced her to the other reality of the oftentimes cruel world she was born into.
We talked to her about death. We talked to her about how many kids like her would wake up tomorrow without a Mommy and Daddy.
She quietly looked into the waterfalls of that memorial with intent and deep thought. I’m sure trying to understand what we were actually saying.
Coincidently, a pigeon landed near us. “Is the bird also here to look for the people who died?” She asked. No sweetheart, the bird like us is also here to remember and never forget what happened here.
We introduced her to how God has given us faith, love and hope as those things and concepts that can provide the comfort and answers to what we can’t fill in or understand.
Victoria was mesmerized by a rose stuck to a name on the memorial for Jeffrey Marc Chairnoff. That’s when I talked to her about love and hope and faith once more.
A unique tradition at the memorial is that a real rose is placed on any of the almost 3,000 victim’s names engraved on the memorial when it’s their birthday. She asked, and do they come and sing Happy Birthday to Jeffrey?
Who blows the candles for him and the rest of the “so many names here?”
Why is their no birthday cake?
So I joined Victoria in quietly singing happy birthday to the name with the rose that day. I’m sure Jeffrey smiled from up above as he blew his candles.
I told her that just like we love her, Jeffrey also has lotsa of friends and family that love and miss him too.
He was also a son to a Mommy and Daddy who too miss him. That maybe he also had kids like her too that no longer have him to hug and kiss and help tuck to bed at night.
Her wheels were turning....She understood.
We have a responsibility to teach our new generations about what happened here.
Just like there is good in our world; evil and hate also exist.
We may not be able to explain the how could this be allowed to happen, but we can add color to the realities our world holds both good and bad intentions.
Interestingly, at five, kids are brilliant. We should never underestimate their ability to process and connect abstract things or events that mark our lives like today.
A couple days after this life lesson for her, she very seriously asks Mommy that when she dies, if she could give her the phone she uses. My wife inquisitively asks Victoria, “why do you want my phone when I die honey?” “Because I want to call you when you die in case you’re down in the water and you can’t hear me (referring to the 9/11 Memorial)!!!” she says with a nostalgic but hopeful tone.
This is one of those things that weighs on me with the responsibility of raising another human being. You have to dedicate of your time but you also have to talk to them about the real world.
Always Remember, Never Forget...
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