Eight years ago today, the molten sun of September shone on my little girl as she skipped off to her second day of first grade in Brooklyn. An hour later, everything changed—forever, it seemed.
This morning, in wind and rain, my daughter took a city bus on an hour's trip to her new high school. Flushed with anticipation, she scarcely remembered that it was 9/11, but then, she hardly remembers the day itself or its ghastly aftermath. She recalls feeding an Oreo to a pigeon atop the towers a month before they fell. She faintly recalls bringing sandwiches to a firehouse in Williamsburg for the rescuers, their faces caked with grime and sweat as they lay exhausted on the sidewalk. She remembers that I looked serious and sad when I picked her up from school.
But when we look out our "park-viewing window" tonight at the Towers of Light, we will see them rise over a city that feels as full of promise and peril as it ever was—no more, no less. No loss in my life, not even that of my parents, has struck me with the surreal resilience of the grieving process as has this, our collective recovery. And yet, the other day, mulling the not-so-distant prospect of retirement planning, I realized that That Day had indeed left one permanent mark on my character:
I find it hard to imagine living anywhere else but New York City.
I was pleased to see Daughter take a copy of this prayer out of her backpack today, distributed by the religion teacher at her new Catholic high school. As a child, I loved its fierce romance; now, as a mother, I just pray it straight.
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Image: Madonna with the serpent, Caravaggio, via ChristusRex.org.