A Birthday, Bittersweet


“How was your day?” It’s a question I have found myself automatically asking my son on our ride home from preschool each afternoon.


For months, this has been his response…that is, until just a few days ago. The weather was obnoxiously humid and the kids – most inconveniently and unsurprisingly – wanted to play outside. I found respite on our porch swing and a blonde-haired boy quickly climbed up to join.

And in the swinging, this magical thing happened. He started talking.

Yesterday the scene repeated itself, only this time my eyes were saturated. September 11 marked the fifteen-year anniversary of a national tragedy…and the fifteen-year anniversary of my sixteenth birthday. By mid-morning on that fateful day, dreams of pink glitter had turned to ash.

You see, life had different plans for me – the kind that would forever alter my view of the world.

I remember a phone call a few years ago where I was required to share basic demographic information. Moments after I disclosed my date of birth the operator’s words pierced my heart: “I’m so sorry.” Who knew a birthday could evoke such sadness in a stranger?

But the truth is, September 11 is a difficult day for most Americans because we all lost something – or maybe even someone.

My son, however, is far too little to comprehend or carry the weight of that day. With a swift stroke of my finger, I caught the tears that threatened to interrupt our dialogue. Not this year.

Over dried mango slices – my requested birthday treat – I asked my son a series of questions during our golden opportunity for honesty. Who will you be at 31? How many children will you have? What will you do for a living?

“I’ll knock down trees with my sword! And you will teach at work.”

In a moment where fear for our nation, for my children’s future could have so easily overtaken me, a tender voice reminded me that life will go on – that our kids will make their own way in overcoming the challenges we can’t yet see.

For myself, I could use a little less tragedy these days. And I think it all begins with perspective – a willingness to sit back, lift our feet off the ground, and release as we swing through the air.

And, if we’re really lucky, a little boy will teach us to savor even the sour pieces.

4 thoughts on “A Birthday, Bittersweet

  1. That’s fun, “knock down trees with my sword”. Isn’t it odd to think that there are kids starting high school this year who were not alive on that day and are learning about 911 as history? It is scary how time flies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It definitely doesn’t feel like 15 years have passed. I think what scares me isn’t necessarily those who haven’t lived through the event, but instead those who never got to experience the pre-9/11 freedoms many of us did. Even without social media, the world felt so much more open…and kind.

      Liked by 1 person

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