Many things struck me about Christina Green's short life. She was an excellent student, loved baseball, dance and was on her student council. But her birthday is what made me, and so many others, stop in their tracks. 9/11/01. Christina Green was born on the day of one of the most tragic days in United States history.
I don't know Christina Green's family, but I believe I share a sense of the impossible hope they felt on that terrible day.
The morning of September 11, 2001, our family woke up to a fairly typical fall day. We were sleepily moving into on our day, drinking coffee, getting Mila ready for day care, and me ready to go to work. Our phone rang at 8:15 a.m. and our dear friend and neighbor, Steven Taylor, asked us if we were watching the news. I told him we never watched the morning news and he said, "Turn on your T.V. They're bombing New York City."
I found the remote and switched on a random news channel. Jack and I held Mila and watched as the first World Trade Center collapsed like a sand castle at high tide. I don't remember if I hung up the phone or not.
Jack's brother lived at the time in Brooklyn and bartended in the city. One of our closest friends worked at the WTC. Another lived in Battery Park. We'd lived in NYC for close to ten years and left many friends behind. We frantically got on the phone and started to call, in some frantic moment of thinking we'd be able hear their voices. We didn't get through to anyone right then, but throughout the day, word filtered in that all our friends and family were alive. Incredibly shattered emotionally, but alive. One friend recounted watching the people who threw themselves out of their office windows. The friend who worked at the WTC spoke of being separated from his fiancee for hours before they knew each other was all right. After hours of seeing the towers collapse, over and over again, Jack made me turn off the T.V. We had an appointment to get to that afternoon.
I was a little over three months pregnant and we had a checkup with our nurse midwife. Jack, Mila and I arrived at the doctor's office, which surprisingly was still open. The waiting room was solemn, with the buzz of a the news playing on a local radio station in the background. We were ushered into a room and I changed into a dressing gown.
Our nurse midwife, Sherri, came into the room. Without saying anything, we hugged one another. She brought in the sonogram machine and rubbed the cold jelly on my tummy, all the while explaining to Mila that we were going to listen to the baby's heartbeat. She placed the pad on my belly and turned the volume up. A whirring series of rhythmic beats filled the room. "My angel," Mila whispered. Less than a second later, another series of rhythmic beats filled the room.
"Hmm...that baby is moving really fast," Sherri said.
I'll never forget the quixotic look on her face as she said that. It was a look that at its core held a secret and a smile.
We went through the rest of the examination.
A few weeks later we went to have an amnio, since I was approaching 43. In stunned silence, we watched as two round shadows showed up on the screen. We were having twins.
The quixotic look on our midwife's face made total sense. The baby wasn't moving fast; there were two babies. Two baby girls. Twin girls whose heartbeats we heard on 9/11/01. Two glimmers of hope in the face of such tragedy, confusion and sadness.
Those twin baby girls will turn nine years old next month. Like Christina Green, they've been studying US government. One of their classmates is the son of our state representative, who visited their class and talked about how laws get made. I remember their excitement as they came home after meeting him and coming up with a list of laws they'd like to see made.
I cannot even imagine the pain Christina Green's circle of family and friends are experiencing right now. I can only pray that they are able to find comfort in one another. We don't know one another, and chances are we may never meet, but unknowingly, we shared three glimmer of hope on 9/11/01. Theirs in the birth of their glorious child, Christina. Ours in the fleeting sound of twin heart beats.
Our lives cross in ways we sometimes know of, but more often than not, our lives ripple across an interconnectedness that sometimes remain unknown to one another.
How do we explain to our children the ways hatred enters a heart and leads to shattered lives? We can't, or at least I don't have any answers. The only answer, the only balm for the wounds of our spirit I have comes in the words of Martin Luther King:
"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of the spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."
Light a candle. Pray. Breathe. Create space around the negative feelings this tragedy bring forth. Express loving kindness toward yourself and our world. Today and everyday.