Ben was thirteen months old and looking at the cover of a book I was reading about the Twin Towers. It had a small, grainy picture of both towers on fire. He couldn’t walk yet and could hardly speak, but he kept crawling over to the coffee table and picking up the book and looking at the picture whenever I put it down. I was baffled. I didn’t know whether I should take the book away from him—he was, after all, just a baby—but I couldn’t imagine that the images meant anything to him, since he had only been three weeks old when the towers fell and wholly unable to focus his eyes at the time. But he kept being drawn to the picture.
Finally I said, “What’s up, Ben?” I was just saying this out loud, since I knew he couldn’t answer me. He only knew about ten words. But he stared at the picture for a long time and then looked up at me.
“Ouch,” he said. “Ouch.”
Every time he saw the book he stared at the picture with a quiet reverence and then said the same thing.