The is a guest post which first appeared on Facebook from my long time friend Jennifer Gibbs who lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and three children. It was published here in 2012. Her words to her daughter reminded me to see the tragedy in my life with a new point of view. I hope it inspires you as well.
My daughter, Megan, is twelve years old and some people don’t know she’s on the autism spectrum. Frequently I have to explain people’s reactions emotionally because she doesn’t get it. So today Megan came home from school and I as always asked about her day. She told me about the 9-11 remembrance ceremony they had at school and how her history teacher cried while explaining the events to them. She seemed concerned and confused. I asked if she knew how old her teacher was on that date, she said she didn’t. I asked her what grade she was in (because that’s a detail I guarantee would have been relayed). Her teacher was in the 10th grade (making her sixteen) Of course she was crying, describing the events Megan.
Megan didn’t understand why.
I told my daughter about how I found out. How I was woken up after a long night of dealing with my child who had a cold to a phone call. My dad called to tell me he was okay and he was going to go home and if I talked to my mom let her know so she wouldn’t worry. I immediately started bawling explaining the rest of that morning.
See Megan at first we thought it was a really bad accident, we didn’t realize it was an act of psychological weaponry . . . right up until the second tower got hit. I remember watching it on TV and my mouth wouldn’t close for a good 15 minutes. Terrorism was something we as a country weren’t familiar with dealing with. I came to find out my daughter thought it happened to the military and the police and she wasn’t so freaked out. I explained to my daughter, ‘no sweetheart thousands of people who just went to work that day died.’Megan at this point is pretty upset looking. She gets it’s not some battle in some distant place now. It’s serious it’s scary (because it was and still is scary). But I made a specific point. I told her it taught us something about ourselves. See the terrorists wanted us to be afraid, they wanted to instill fear and make us grind to a halt and be in awe of their power. They didn’t expect the byproduct of such a significant attack on American soil.
See we as a people have something special. In a city that is known for it’s rudeness and anger something remarkable happened. People helped complete strangers without any question or doubt. Our humanity shined that day. That spirit and downright grit that makes this country amazing came out and we carried on. Because I wanted my daughter to learn a lesson, not to be afraid… no baby… understand we’re made of some amazing stuff and we can make it through just about anything. Even something so horrific as what happened on September 11th 2001.Remembering is never ever about fear, it’s about understanding ourselves and knowing we’re pretty strong. That’s why we do it, we remember the fallen and it makes us sad. But we know we’ve persevered and gotten through it.