“Mom, what happened to the Twin Towers?” asked Janie at dinner this past Sunday.
I put down my fork, thinking about how to explain, and my mother-in-law stepped in. “They flew two airplanes into them,” she said.
“Terrorists,” we both answered.
“Because they wanted to kill as many people as possible in as big a way as possible,” I said. “So everyone would see.”
Her eyes went wide and her brown wrinkled. “But why would they kill all those people?”
“So that everyone would pay attention. They blamed out country for everything that was going wrong in the world, and they wanted everyone to know.”
“That’s not . . . why didn’t they just talk to us?”
“Because they’re mean,” said my mother-in-law. “Mean and evil.”
“They wanted to scare us into doing what they wanted—so they would feel stronger,” I said. “Like bullies.”
“Did it work?” she asked.
I hesitated again, but no one else spoke.
“They scared us,” I told my daughter, who was conceived in April of 2002. “But they didn’t stop us.”