So many things to say about September 11th. I’m not going to say most of them.
I woke up this morning and went about my day as if it was any other day. Get the kids ready. Get them to school. We dropped of Jaanu first. And when I got back in the car, I turned to Anaiya, and asked her if she knew what day it was.
Since she was born, we’ve always found a moment to remember what happened on September 11, 2001. As she’s gained vocabulary, we’ve focused on saying how much we “miss” Neil Kaka, and “goodnight” to him. As she’s gained agency, we’ve worked through how we can celebrate him.
Because that’s what we do for people we love but lose; we make sure they’re never fully lost by remembering them. We carry something they did forward for them into eternity.
On the way from Jaanu’s school to Anaiya’s school I asked her if she knew what today was. When I reminded her it was September 11th she got quiet. When I told her about Neil, well, she took things to the next level.
Oh yeah. She remembered.
She asked for my hand, and when I passed it back to her while continuing to drive, she caressed it and fell silent. When I looked in the rear view, I saw her face. Her eyes. Overflow up with tears. And that’s when I started recording. First, please, find someone who cries for you before you cry for yourself. I had no space or time today. For so many reasons upon reasons. But all I had to do was share a short story and my daughter cried for me (and as you’ll hear, invited me into that release).
My kids are not a piece of my heart; they are not an extension of my heart; they are my heart, evolved. They are my heart, and then some. This is that evidence. What I love though, is how she embraces the spirit. HIS spirit.
One thing I’ve kept alive for Neil was his desire to do for others; he always talked about how his birthday should be about celebrating others, not having a party for himself. I try to do that (as hard as the world makes it, and as simple as I think it is, as hard as it is to be allowed to pursue it).
When we start talking about Neil Kaka and giving to the homeless well, Anaiya’s reaction is priceless in that second video. I caught these moments after the fact; as they caught me a little off guard.
But nothing caught me more off-guard more than getting a call at 3:02pm ET from Anaiya whole she was at school. I had to pause a work call (Mari Labuschagne Parker as my witness!) to pick this up.
Why was Anaiya calling me at 3pm?She was calling me because today was 9/11. And she knew I was sad.
And she made darned sure her whole school and all her teachers knew she was going to call me.
She wanted to tell me she loved me and that she wasn’t going to be happy today because she knew I was sad today.
Well, what the hell folks.
When I picked her up later in the day she gave me the grandest of hugs. The biggest of smiles. Which is when I told her; that I will have sad thoughts and feelings in the future, but it will be impossible for me to be sad with her love and attention around me. She smiled. And that’s when I cupped her chin in my right hand and pulled her gaze to mine, and said it again.”
I may have sad thoughts again in the future, Anaiya, but I want you to know, that with you in my life, I am incapable of being sad.”I don’t think she got it. But I hope those are the kind of words that click at some point in the future. Because she carried me today. Like she’s carried me so many days.
That’s what feels right to me today, about pain and hurt. You can’t hide it. Lose it. Erase it. All you can do is offset it. Cover it. Overwhelm it with love.
I love you, buhboo.
Your ability to feel people’s pain, and to make them feel loved, is a superpower that would confuse and disorient the best of the DC and Marvel universes.
The celestials have nothing on you.
I love you.