On 9/11, COVID-19 and the Class of 2020

I have to believe it’s not irony, it’s not coincidence, it’s not just bad luck that the 9/11 babies are also the Class of 2020 graduates.

Is it irony or fate that you were in my womb, 22 weeks along, when the world stopped on 9/11/2001, and now, a month from graduating and two months into being an “adult” at 18, the world has stopped again?

This is what has been on my mind as I hunker down in my home, watching the world being held hostage by an invisible yet very real threat.

I distinctly remember hearing the news that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers and feeling horrible for the people involved in what I could only imagine was a terrible accident. Then I remember running to a coworker’s cubicle to watch the second plane hit and thinking, “This can’t be what it looks like.” And as news reported more that morning and my boss allowed us to go to a church to pray, I remember sitting in the pew of a church I’d never before attended, alongside people I’d never met, praying for the world, for my young son at his babysitter’s, and for this baby I would be bringing into this crazy world.

For the next few weeks I fell into a depression, feeling guilty for being pregnant with you–an innocent bystander who didn’t deserve to be born into a world full of hatred and fear. I wondered what life would be like for you–would you know happiness and freedom?

But life settled down. Never the same, but a new “normal.” Planes flew again. I didn’t cry every time I listened to the news. I was proud of how we were coming together as a nation. I was proud of our president, even though I hadn’t voted for him. I found the stories of hope and healing amidst the rubble.

And then, near the end of January, when I didn’t think I could stand being pregnant one more day, you were born–chubby, wide-eyed, and another miracle that I had created. We were a family of four, and my heart felt like it would burst.

Now you are one of the seniors of the Class of 2020, and I once again wonder if it was irony or fate that those of you who were born during 9/11 are the ones that will go out and become adults during the next huge unknown.

Of course the stories of people infected and dying of COVID-19 are horrific and a million times sadder and more significant than you missing your opportunity to accept your Governor’s Scholar Award, perform the lead in the spring play, or perhaps even walk across the stage to get your diploma. No contest. Death and illness trump missing prom hands down. However, that doesn’t mean these seniors don’t have the right to feel let down, to mourn the end of their senior year that likely won’t happen, to think about the memories that could’ve been.

My sweet 9/11 baby, I’m sorry you have worked so hard all through school and may not get to experience the recognitions, the pomp and circumstance that you deserve. But the fact that you seem to be taking it better than I am tells me that you were born to be resilient and to see the big picture.

Maybe, just maybe, Class of 2020, you were made for this moment. You were prepped, before you were born, to face heartache, uncertainty, and worry. Maybe you are who we need to lead us into the next “normal,” as I don’t think our world will ever look the same after the dust settles and we assess the damage this virus has done.

I have to believe it’s not irony, it’s not coincidence, it’s not just bad luck that the 9/11 babies are also the Class of 2020 graduates. Instead, I believe this is your destiny to lead us and show us how to go on and live, learn, and create a more sustainable and peaceful world.

Go out and change the world, Class of 2020. You were made for this.