The last one

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

It was sunny today, hot and bright. Much like 9/11/01 and most September days since, being as it is the waning days of summer. The oyster and I went to her first music class this morning and unsurprisingly she got right into the dancing. But while the other toddlers floated like butterflies to the classical flute music, the little oyster dropped her own beat and it was Hammertime. I’m looking forward to our Thursday mornings this fall.

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

I don’t know yet how we will teach our daughter about 9/11. At two years old, this is simply another day for her and of course it should be at her ripe old age. But how do you teach someone to never forget when there’s no memory of what we’re to remember in the first place?

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

The morning radio show the husband listens to took calls about 9/11. One listener’s 6th grader has an assignment to interview someone who remembers that day. None of those children were alive when the planes went down, none of them remember the silence in the skies for days and days after, all of them know a country at war and pat-downs at the airport. How many have been to Section 60? Who can say.

“I don’t much care where” is a lazy proclamation, not a carefree anthem. When we teach our daughter about 9/11 and Section 60 and freedom and living and making a future informed–even emboldened–by the past but not crippled by it, however we do that, she won’t be able to say “I don’t much care…” because that fatalism is trumped by the vow to never forget. I care which attitude we impart, in all things, big and small.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

It matters to me which way we go. It matters to me that we walk boldly and humbly in a direction, with no guarantee of arrival but an understanding of the admonition to get moving.

“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

We can’t always see which way we ought to go from here. When the time comes to teach our little girl about 9/11 and remembering, I know where we want to get to: To an understanding of life in the midst of loss, love and good in moments of terror, redemption in the face of evil. These are lofty goals, I know. But we are going to walk long enough that in the big things and in the little things she understands that the billowing black smoke behind us may always stay with us in some ways but that the end of one thing makes room for something new.

never forget

The little {pink} oyster

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things–of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings….”

The time has also come to talk seriously about baby names, since following today’s ultrasound, the husband and I were able to cut our list of possible names in half.

With four working ventricles, two distinct brain hemispheres, two arms, two legs, tiny fingers that wiggled, and kinda big feet that danced around seemingly unattached to anything else–they looked like the Cheshire Cat’s grin in Alice in Wonderland, bobbing about disconcertingly in a sea of darkness–our little baby is fully formed and growing away.

When the technician tried to determine the sex, the little oyster put its little oyster arms between its little oyster legs, curled up in a ball, and went to sleep. Whatever else it is, it is clearly a modest–or stubborn–little thing.

After telling us that sometimes a baby just doesn’t want to cooperate with parts of the scan and everything else looks just fine and good and normal, the oyster acquiesced and flashed a brief but definitive view of her little girl parts.

“I’m seeing that you have a little girl in here,” said the tech.
“It’s a little girl?!” chirped the husband’s excited voice from the squeaky little stool at the foot of the exam table.
“Yes. These three lines <highlights area of screen> are how we know that we’re looking at a girl.”
“We’re having a girl!” chirped the husband again, grabbing my leg.

I just grinned at him and maybe managed a “yay!”but in the dark room no one saw the excited little tears that leaked out of my eye and soaked into the paper covering the table.

Until that very second, I still had no idea or feeling about what the little oyster was. I was even sure at one point that I saw a little peepee on the screen, and I was pleased to discover that my heart did not sink to my ankles when I (thought I) saw it.

But it’s a girl! It’s a little girl oyster! The husband and I are thrilled, and it was such fun to call and text our families and let them know there’s a granddaughter/niece on the way. It’s the first grandbaby on the husband’s side, and the first granddaughter–following four adorable grandsons–on my side.

Like we had planned four weeks ago when we scheduled the 20 week exam, the husband and I went out to lunch together, talking briefly about our girl names and just staring at each other with googly eyes for the rest of the meal. Looking at the husband, I realized again what gorgeous peepers this little lady is going to have.

The tech did mention that she was glad we were excited because most of the time when she says a couple is growing a girl, the room goes silent. As in, crickets chirping. That made my heart sad for those little girls.

But not for ours. Little girl oyster, we can’t wait to have you!