I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I just couldn't help myself.
We had a wonderful day today -- our annual MIT crabfest at a really nice place right on the water, with absolutely perfect weather topped off by one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've seen in a long time. Mom & Dad brought a cake to celebrate friendships and all our kids, not knowing that everyone had planned a special Grandparents Day thank you to them as the more-than-just-honorary grandparents to all the kids. (There will be a full post in the near future, I promise.) In short, it was a wonderful day.
But somewhere in the back of my mind, the date stuck in the back of my mind.
I remember another beautiful September day 15 years ago, waking up to horrible news that just kept. getting. worse.
I set my DVR to record a series of specials on cable, knowing that it would probably take me weeks to watch the few hours of 9/11 specials because of the need to take it in small doses.
But I just couldn't help myself, and I turned on the History Channel.
I watched the towers come down again. And then again. Sitting in my living room, knowing what I was going to see and not wanting to see it but watching anyway, often with tears on my face. Wanting to tell the people onscreen to not go down that street, don't try to get closer for a better view, don't let that fire truck park there.
And yet I kept watching.
Watching, and wondering. I see these images and all the images that have been recorded in the subsequent fifteen years, and then I look at my niece and more than ever wonder about what kind of world she's growing up in. How can I explain these images and events to her? How can I teach her to be as careful as she needs to be and yet still be willing & able to trust the people around her? What -- if anything -- can I do to help keep her safe?
I don't have the answers. I don't think anyone has the answers. I'm not sure there are any answers. All I know is that when I can, I hug her and hold her as tightly as I can for a few seconds before letting her run off again and go back to whatever it is she's doing.
And then I got to thinking. Maybe that is the answer, for her, for all the kids, for everybody. Hug them, and love them as hard as you can, and let them live their lives as best they can while passing on as much advice and information as possible. Don't pass on the fear... but don't ever forget where it comes from so you can help them deal with it when it rises up in their lives.
If's gotten us through the past fifteen years of wondering. It's gotten us through the past six years of having the Pipsqueak (who's really not so pipsqueakish any more) here with us. Just keep loving them as hard as you can and let them live their lives as best they can because you never know when that will suddenly not be possible any more.
My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅-- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!