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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Now in Good Hands Because Mom Planned Ahead

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl whose mother died 10 days after the attacks of Sept. 11. I never knew my father, so after Mom's death, I moved to Utah to live with my guardians and their three children.

My new family makes me feel comfortable and safe. I feel very lucky. The children are like my siblings. We all get along well, and I feel a real sense of belonging.

Although there have been difficulties adjusting to my new life, new school and new family, I have managed well with the help and support of my guardians -– especially my new sister.

Recently an adult friend asked me for advice regarding her own children. She was worried that if anything happened to her and her husband, the kids would end up in foster care.

My recommendation to her and to any parent is this: If at all possible, find a place with family or friends that you know your kids would feel safe and comfortable. Let them know that they would live there and be taken care of if anything happened to you. Above all, let the kids know how much they are loved.

Thanks for letting me share this with your readers, Abby. I love your column. -- ALL SETTLED IN, SALT LAKE CITY

DEAR ALL SETTLED IN: You are a courageous and mature young woman who has written a letter addressing a subject that's not often discussed because it's too painful. Your story is an important one. Sept. 11 has brought into focus the fact that the unthinkable CAN happen. All of us need to put our house in order –- especially if the household contains children.

Parents who haven't already done so should see an attorney to put their child custody plans in writing.

DEAR ABBY: On Sept. 11, 2001, our granddaughter, Christine Morrison, watched the tragedy unfold on television with the twin towers collapsing into heaps of dust. She went into her bedroom and wrote the poem that I have enclosed.

Her fourth-grade teacher thought it was so special she sent a copy to President Bush. Christine received a very special letter from Mrs. Bush thanking her for the poem.

We are proud of our talented granddaughter and hope you will find her words meaningful. -- LARUE AND HERB MORRISON, SALEM, OHIO

DEAR LARUE AND HERB: Your granddaughter embodies the determination of all our citizens to rebuild --- both physically and spiritually --- from the rubble of that horrific day. She's a strong and talented young girl who has already made a difference. Read on:

THE DUST OF SEPTEMBER

By Christine Morrison, Grade 4

The dust of September

The dust, the smoke, the clouds

from the dust of September.

The sadness, the sorrow, the darkness

from the dust of September.

The pretty sites are gone, the love, the death

from the dust of September.

The families, the lives taken away

by the dust of September.

Our country is sad, but our country still stands

in the dust of September.

Our flag still waves

through the dust of September.

We will never break, we will stand together

through the dust of September.

People hurt, hearts broken, but we survive

in the dust of September.

DEAR READERS: If Sept. 11 has taught us anything, it is how strong the people of this great country can be when they are called upon. To the families and friends who lost loved ones a year ago today, you are in the hearts of all Americans. Our prayers are with you.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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