Letter to my Daughter

Recently, I found a letter that I wrote to my oldest daughter on September 21th, 2001. Here is an excerpt of what was in my heart ten years ago:

“I write this letter 10 days after a national tragedy, because I know that although you are little now (only three years old), someday we will talk about what happened. I will tell you where I was, and what I was doing when I heard the news, and I will then be able to tell you the history of what happens next. But right now that is still the future, so I can only tell you what is in my heart at this moment.

My heart is broken for the thousands of people who have unspeakable grief because they have lost someone they love. Many parents lost a son or daughter. I want you to know how thankful I am to be your mommy – to have you in my life. You are a priceless treasure, and a gift from God. The joy I felt when you were born grows each day.

Life is uncertain and we never know how much time we will have together. I want to cherish each moment. And more than anything, I want you to know that the love of God is greater than all the evil, suffering, and pain in this world. We will be together forever with Him.

May you grow in God’s grace and be brave. Many people died because of courageous acts – passengers on airplanes, firefighters, policemen and rescue workers who ran into burning buildings to save and help others. They were killed when the buildings collapsed. I pray that you will always be brave and choose to help others, and find the truth in what Jesus said - “Real life is found in giving yours away.”

When I read this letter, I noticed the connection between sorrow and gratitude. I experienced it again recently after visiting a friend – a mom like me – who has cancer. The cancer has taken away many of her abilities, and for the remainder of the day after our visit, I was aware of both the sorrow of her situation as well as a heightened sense of gratitude. When I picked up my girls from school, I whispered a thank-you-prayer to God that I am able to drive and walk. When I made a cake with my daughter that afternoon, as I measured out the flour, I whispered another thank-you that I am able to bake with my daughter.

I thought about how my friend doesn’t deserve to have cancer, and I don’t deserve to be healthy.

Sometimes I am swallowed up by sorrow. The sorrow in the lives of those I care about, and the grief all over this world. And yet sometimes, when I respond to God’s comfort and grace, that same sorrow opens the way to gratitude. Blessings all around me. Blessings I don’t deserve, and often times don’t even notice.

On this ten year anniversary of September 11th, I remember the loss. I remember the tragedy. I will pray for those who are still hurting. And I will be grateful. I will pay attention to the blessings all around me, and drink deeply from the well of His grace.