On Tuesday we watched the buses go by starting at 7am and continuing until around 8:45am. We were in bed for the first bunch and in our pjs through the rest of them. It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a walk at the local arboretum. We brought along some books and I took some great first day of school pictures of my kids doing school up in a tree literally. They climbed their favorite trees and I handed them their math workbooks where they did one lesson and then went back to running around. A bit later we sat in the shade under some canopy trees and read for about a half hour until the bugs started to get annoying. That was enough school to call it our first day back to school right?
The next two days were also beautiful and our time was simply better spent outside. We took long walks in some of our favorite places and managed to get math and reading in each day, they even wrote a little bit. They played board games together, worked on a skit or two and spent a lot of time on the trampoline and swings. We had Starbucks and took a long drive.
Today, September 11th a day to remember for our family. A few years ago we started a tradition of baking and delivering home made cookies to our local firefighters, police officers, and emergency room workers on this day. The kids each make cards that we deliver along with the cookies. This year Maria made one for the hospital workers, Ciaran the police department and Sirah the fire station. They worked hard on them and together we baked a few dozen cookies to deliver.
While we were making the cookies we talked about September 11th and what happened on that day. We talked about our family and friends that were directly involved or affected by that day and pray for those families and all those affected and changed by the events of that day. We talk about why those emergency workers and first responders are so important to us and everyone and how thankful we are for them. Then we go out and deliver the cookies and cards.
Every year I tell myself I will make it through without crying and sometimes I manage through the police department our first stop but I never make it past the fire station. Knowing how many fire fighters died that day and how many went into the buildings knowing they were unlikely to return out alive yet still they went. I think of my relatives who were there and my cousin who died there fighting the fire and I think of the local men and women who would do the same for me and my family and the tears come. The fire fighters in many years have been the most affected or touched by the gesture coming on this day. One year we went in and saw the poster they keep on the inside of the station with all the fallen fire fighters from that day and I point out my cousin to them. This year the visit was more upbeat though the fire fighter we talked with lived in New York for many years and he and I were able to talk about that.
The hospital is where we all felt it the most this year. The nurses at the front counter were so moved by my kids and the card that Maria wrote. She drew wonderful pictures of nurses and doctors caring for patients and wrote touching words thanking them for all they do and the difference they make in all our lives. The kids did all the talking at the hospital, I am not sure I could have said much and it would have seem so inadequate next to my kids and their words even at the young ages of 10, 8 and 6. When Sirah shared that we did this today to remember and honor those who died and helped people 8 years ago when so many people died in the building and planes the nurse said she had goosebumps and looked up at me tears in her eyes and said you must be so proud of these children. I was.
I know all parents are proud of their kids and amazed by them but today I think anyone would have felt those things about our kids. I looked at them and their hearts and was so moved. Heading back to the car they talked about how good they felt and how we should not wait until next year to do this but we should do it once a week. How there are so many people we could bake for and say thank you too or just cheer up with a card and gift. I was amazed.
After our last delivery I was ready to just go home and pull my kids into my arms and hold them close and just be quiet and thankful with them. Instead we had plans to meet friends at a homeschool day at Fort Snelling and headed there. On arriving there I had quite an internal struggle going on within me. This particular family we were meeting was touched by September 11th in a most intimate way, the father was in the Marriott Hotel in the towers the day they fell and he survived and has shared his story with me. I actually just reread it this morning after watching some coverage with Serona. Part of his story talks about the fire fighters and one in particular that left an impression on him a fire fighter who kept saying the Hail Mary over and over again. My cousin was found in the hotel with a rosary in his hand. I have no way of knowing if they crossed paths but the similarities of the stories touched me in particular today. Walking around the military fort, hearing a cannon fired off, watching some sort of military exercise or flyover in the sky as 5 military ships circled and passed over the fort was nearly too much for me to take. Some years it does not affect me as much but today everything just swirled around and came together in a way that quieted me and led me to reflect.
Tonight at dinner the kids had lots of questions and Serona and I did our best to answer things like: Why would someone kill themselves to kill others? What makes someone hate our country so much? Why didn't they try to land the plane instead of crash it into a field? Do terrorists still live and try to do things like that? These are questions I wish I did not have to answer and when they were heading to bed I prayed for good thoughts to fill their heads and hearts and for them to remain innocent children for awhile longer.
Thank you to all who have sacrificed for me and my family. Thanks to all the heroes out there, to the military families who give so much and to those who gave all for others.
In the end I think we had an incredible first week of school and one that simply could not have been replicated in another setting. From long walks and math in the trees the first day to the service acts and life and history lessons of today I simply could not give our family a better first week.