From Chicken Soup for the Soul of America

Reflections from a New Father

Rather than fearing death, we’re embracing life—life is now seen as more precious, more meaningful than it seemed before that tragic fall day.

Laura Bush

My second daughter was born on September 11, 2001, at 4:41 P.M. I wrote the following article for our church bulletin.

I have looked forward to writing this article for about nine months, and I hoped that it would be filled with joyous words devoted totally to my gratitude to the Father for bestowing the same title upon me . . . again. Indeed, I am thankful that Anna Belle Skidmore was born on September 11, 2001 (seven pounds, thirteen ounces and twenty inches long, with red hair and blue eyes like her sister), but my heart is heavy that as our family added a member, so many other people lost those who they had brought into this world. Although the world Anna Belle was welcomed into is a different world than the one that awaited her a day earlier, let’s reflect on the words of the doctor as she held my daughter for her first unaided breath while a nearby television relayed the unfolding tragedy. Turning to everyone in the room, the doctor said, “May this child be a reminder of who is really in control of our world.”

The day of my daughter’s birth will always be connected with memories and memorials of death, but on 4:41 P.M. on Tuesday, as images of death engulfed our minds, God made his way into the world . . . in our midst . . . among us . . . as he did so many years ago . . . in the image of a child. My friend shared a very poignant thought, reminding me that although the date of Anna Belle’s birth might forever be associated with the events of that day, it would be a blessing to know that it might also be the same day that marked the beginning of a rebirth of an awareness of God in our nation, in our schools and in our homes.

On the way to the church to write these words, I heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” being played on the radio. Flags hung on the front doors of many houses on both sides of the road—one was even hand-drawn by a child. I have to trust that we gained a greater allegiance not only to the flag this day, but that we also became aware of our need as a nation to truly be “under God.” If July 4 is our Independence Day, perhaps September 11 should become our “Dependence Day”—a day in which we as a nation come to realize that our collective hope, future and lives were placed more securely in his hands.

I, too, began a new life on Tuesday, just as my daughter, Anna Belle, began a new life.

And just as Anna Belle, I was pulled from a place of safety, security and peace into a tragic, scary, unpredictable and hostile world.

Even though Anna Belle was born into uncertainty, she was immediately placed into the hands of a father whose main desire is to protect her, provide for her and promise her a rich future. Her story is my story . . . and yours. We are all frail, tiny and vulnerable, and our physical lives come with no guarantees. Yet that part of us most carefully created in his image is safe in the hands of a protecting, providing and promising Father. September 11 will always, in one special way, be a celebration of life for this particular father. My prayer is that history will look back and one day celebrate it as a day of renewed life toward our Father.

Another friend sent me these words in a simple but powerful note:

On a day in which everyone is asking, “Why would God ever let this happen?” perhaps we should look at you holding your daughter and ask the very same question.

David Skidmore

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