Josh (17) and Moi at JFK, mid-September 2001
Josh spent his 11th grade year in Rennes, France. He and his 40 new classmates from all over the U.S. were supposed to fly from Boston's Logan Airport to Paris on September 12, 2001.
He and his dad left late on September 10, planning to stay somewhere in upstate New York that night and head for Providence on the 11th, via New York City. Their goal was a college visit to Brown University, our alma mater, and an overnight with my husband's sister and her husband before driving up to Boston on the 12th.
About ten days later, all of the kids and their faculty chaperones gathered at JFK. That time, I was one of the drivers, along with the dad of one of Josh's classmates who was also going to France. It was difficult, saying good-bye in an airport in which new security measures prevented us from going to the gate and hanging around, saying good-bye and knowing that we would not see Josh until Christmas at best, saying good-bye and knowing that airplanes had become weapons. When we did fly to France in December, the four of us left at home would decide to divide into two pairs, taking different flights . . . just in case.
I think that the group that gathered at JFK that afternoon was a remarkable constituency of hope. Each family had made the decision to send a child overseas for a year, despite what had just happened. We wanted to honor our children and their eagerness to engage the world by spending a year living in an unfamiliar culture with unknown families, speaking a second language. We refused to be cowed by the fear that the 9/11 terrorists sought to instill.
For our family, that hope was crushed seven years later. But I am still awfully proud of that boy and his willingness to take on a great challenge.
Welcome Home! ~ June 2002