On the evening of May 4th, 2016, it was Holocaust Remembrance Day. In honor of it I wrote the following piece, as I will never forget the ones we lost. The ones I could have known. The ones who shine through every candle lit. :
“The trees were filled with many shades of green, the sky was beginning to turn bright colors, and Grandpa led me to the gravesite of his parents. I stood in the grass staring quietly at the graves and heard myself ask Grandpa about his parents and what he remembers about them. “Grandpa, what were they like? Do you think they would have wanted to know me?” I saw through the wind blowing in the trees my Grandpa in tears, soaking in the moment with me. I could hear him say, “Of course, Sophieka! They would have loved you like I do.” And then he would smile and embrace me in his arms.” I wrote this as I reflected after his death, on my time spent visiting areas of Hungary, where my Grandpa was from. Fortunately, my Grandpa’s parents passed away before the Holocaust. But none of his siblings nor their children survived. I never had the chance to know them, to see them outside of a few old wrinkly photos. I always wondered who they were, what they would have been like to talk to. I’ve wondered what similarities children have with their parents and I always wanted to know how my grandpa managed to have the kindest soul. Were his parents just as kind and loving? Would they have liked to know me, as their son’s granddaughter whom he so loved? And what about my Grandpa’s siblings? What were they like? Would they have wanted to know me too? Would their children play with me? I’ll never know. I’ll never have my questions answered because their life was taken away.
A brother of my Grandpa’s had two daughters and one of them my Hebrew name is named after. She was so small, so innocent, so helpless, when her life was destroyed. I am a teacher of small children. I get angry knowing a child’s life was taken away. Every child should have the pleasure of growing up, living a beautiful life, not being killed. It pains me that I couldn’t help these children survive. Why did they have to be taken from the world? Why couldn’t they live? Again, I’ll never know. All I can do is live a happy life for them.
It’s hard to picture such brutality, such disgust, and I want to take myself out of reality and imagine that the children, my family, did not suffer. It’s hard to comprehend the Holocaust. Too much hate, too much suffering, and for what purpose? But instead of shaking our heads at the past, let us remember the lives we lost, the souls that never returned. My grandpa survived. He was almost 89 when he passed away. My grandmother survived. She is now 98 years old. I am in this world because they survived. And I am living my life for all those who could not.