by Benjamin J. Kirby
A lot has happened for us since last year, the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The biggest thing, of course, has been the arrival of Finnegan Fawkes, our glorious, awesome son, back in May. One nice thing about kids (nice for for me, anyway) that no one really tells you (largely because no on really can, I suspect) is that you are obliged to look forward, peer ahead into your own future, really plan things out. I don't know if it's obvious in my writing, but this is not exactly my strong suit.
Now we have a four month-old and a full-fledged toddler -- two and a half, if you can believe it. Our lives revolve almost entirely around the future, sometimes the relatively far future. Where should Emmy go to school? Sure, it's two and a half years off, but the first two and a half flew by. Same thing will be true for Finn, I suspect.
It's more than just school, too. It's investing money for college. It's thinking about the house -- we have a two bedroom, one-bath; don't laugh... I told you planning wasn't my strong suit, and it's not Duncan's fault, either. Emmy is potty trained, now. Three people, one bathroom. That's not good math, trust me. Two years or so flies by, and Finn will be potty trained. Four people one bath? Disaster.
But aside from just bathroom issues and schools, you think about the bigger things, too.
I think about what our world will be like when they're five, ten, eighteen. I think about the world as I knew it when I went off to college in 1989. I think how different their world will be when they do the same thing. Will it be safer? I don't think anyone knows. All we can know is it will be different, and we can work like hell to try and make it better.
For them, 9/11 will be something in a history book (okay, okay, a history app on their school iPad). I wonder if, when I talk to them about it -- because they'll ask someday -- I will have the same look my great-Uncle Stell had when he talked about Pearl Harbor and World War II. He was a tough guy, a big guy. He was my hero, and I didn't like to think of him as ever being scared, but now I know why you could see just a little bit of fear behind his eyes.
For me, 9/11 is indelibly connected to a strange, sometimes frightening time in my life which was the culmination -- in some part, anyway -- of really poor planning for the future. I honestly don't know why, but I had no plan for what I'd do after the Clinton Administration. To be fair to me, I really thought Gore would win and I'd get to stick around another four years.
I think about 9/11 now and I think about all the families who will forever plan their futures a little different, without a loved one, a brother, a sister, husband, wife. A son or daughter. I think about all those families, and hope their lives, eleven years on, have somehow started to heal, if that's even possible.
I think about 9/11 now, and I think about my kids. I do think about the future -- their future, which I so desperately want to be great and good and happy and filled with joy and wonder.
I think about five years, seven, ten, eighteen. I think about twenty and thirty, which is how old I turned just before September 2001.
I don't know what a post-9/11 future has in store for me and my family. But the joy my children are teaching me, in this world made forever a little darker and a lot more complex by the events of 9/11 and the fight against global terrorism, is that we can wake up together and think about the great treasure too many have already lost: tomorrow.