Both of my mother’s parents survived the Holocaust.
Both were married to other people at the time.
Both lost spouses to the Nazis, both had children killed before their eyes.
Both were attacked by Nazis or their dogs, both had Polish neighbors steal their belongings or wish them dead.
Both saved others through their cunning, quick thinking, and self sacrifice.
Both learned that life is precious and precarious.
Both lost everything and chose to build again with nothing.
Both lived for what they had left and for those they left behind.
Both found in the other a friend to share the pain and partner to share the burden.
Both chose life despite the echoes of death.
From them, I learned much.
I learned that some wounds never heal, and that memories don’t knock before they come around.
I learned that one can move on from tragedy, yet never actually leave it behind.
I learned that one can lose their heart and yet somehow retain their soul.
I learned that people are faced with choices, and how they choose defines who they are.
I learned that being surrounded by evil doers is not an excuse to do evil.
I learned that one can mourn forever and still choose to build anew.
I learned that though life is meant for love and trust, a stash of cash and an exit plan should always be at hand.
I learned that what we plan rarely comes to be and that we must always be ready to change direction.
I learned that there is nothing like a parent’s love and that love can overcome the impossible.
I learned that bullying is evil and that no good person stands by when another is being hurt.
I learned that my people endured the worst and yet, our national song is ‘The Hope’.
I learned that our humanity is in every decision we make, and that our legacy is measured in the love we leave behind.
I learned that we can never forget and that we must always remember.