Letter to My Son, Ten Years Later

I slept poorly last night, dear child. I didn’t hear the news until this morning, after I had drifted asleep to a dawn chorus of birds on our living room couch. I didn’t know what had happened. But something kept me up and anxious, almost like a ghost bird, pecking at my brain.

It’s hard to talk about news after the fact. I won’t claim I could see or feel the future, son, not last night. I couldn’t. But once I knew, the feeling was so familiar: the cascade of my worry and anticipation, my hope that some small happiness might result from the wreckage, my grief.

You were born in 2002, my dear son, but I didn’t know you then. You were born in January in Vietnam. On September 11, 2001, your father and I were in Boston, and you were growing in your birthmother’s belly—you were alive—somewhere near Saigon, and we had begun the adoption process.

September 11, 2001, in Boston was a beautiful day, and today it’s a glorious spring morning, the trees budding, tulips and daffodils in bloom. Today, May 2, we have just passed the thirty-sixth anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.

This morning, when your father raced down to wake me up, to hustle you to school—he wasn’t smiling, he was distracted.

“I’m late,” he said. “I was listening to the news. Osama bin—”

“What news?”

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