Sunday, July 12, 2009

How do you explain 9/11 to a child?

Today, the wee nieces and I were hiking in the abandoned cemetery. My 5 year old niece turned and asked me, "is Tommy was buried here?"

I was a little taken aback, as Madi had never known Tommy, and had never mentioned him before.

I replied that Tommy's grave was in a cemetery closer to her Grandma's house. When she asked where he was when he wasn't there, I told her he was in heaven (not a construct easily understood by the young, as I know from personal experience!). Then she wanted to know if he can leave heaven - which led to a very brief explanation about how being in heaven and being dead is a permanent condition.
After talking this over with my sis-in-law later in the afternoon, I learned that my niece had actually overheard some grown-up conversations. A warning to all grown-ups: children hear everything! Even if you think you are speaking in code, or that they are distracted with something else, or are even sleeping in another room: children live to root out the mysteries and secrets in their lives!

Leah shared with me that Madi had also recently asked her about Tommy - questions along the lines of "so did the plane crash into him...? " and so Leah had the heartrending task of telling a tale of evil and murder to her precious and innocent child.

She had to explain to Madi that she was never going to meet her Uncle Tommy in this lifetime - because Uncle Tommy worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center.

And his first day back at work after a brief paternity leave was Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

An no one came home from work on that very say day.