Thursday, April 29, 2010


So for some reason last night I spent too much time on the internet looking at photos and reading stories of survivors of the death camps.

And as I was looking at the pictures I paid extra attention to the faces of the parents of the many children in the photos. The children looked as children do, a bit afraid but confident. Children have this sense that their parents will protect them, will take care of them. In looking at the photos of these children I feel a sense of peace, these children had no idea what was happening to them until it was far too late. By the time they realized something bad was going on the gas was in their lungs and they were losing consciousness. But the parents, although for the most part they didn't exactly know their fate, they had a good idea that either way, it wouldn't be good.

As they stepped, fell, or were shoved off the train cars at the unloading docks and sorted into a group that would either be the workers (mostly the men and young women) and those who would instantly die (older women and children) they had to know that whatever their fate, it would be difficult. There was no peace. Many of these people had come from "ghetto's", places where people lived sometimes hundreds to a building the size of an outhouse or an underground hole. They weren't, for the most part, taken from the lovely upper-middle class houses they once knew, their lives had been painful and hard for quite some time.

Looking at pictures of the "sorted" as they stood in lines, or huddled in groups I had the same response as most people. Those poor people.

What would it have been like as a mother to have your child ripped from your arms, knowing in your heart of hearts you would never see him again?

What would it be like for a father to tell his children to jump from a moving train in hopes of a chance, to see them shot to death as they fell to the ground?

What would it have been like watching your child starve to death, or sweat from typhoid in front of your eyes?

What would it have been like to walk carrying your cooing infant into the gas chamber?

I thought of my children, all of them. And I couldn't fathom it. And then looking through the pictures on various sites I caught the eye of a mother as she looked at the camera with her child in her frail arms and I realized.....

I HAVE done it. I have handed my child over to strangers unknowing if they would be able to help, or ultimately hurt him because doing so was they only chance he had.

I have set my newborn down on a bed and watched them cart him off to the operating room where they would stop his heart.

I have watched my child waste away because he was so fluid overloaded his tissues couldn't even take a tiny bit of parenteral nutrition.

I have wiped the sweat from my son's brow as he struggled desperately to live, smoothed the creases in his forehead from the pain that stayed long after he fell into a drug induced sleep, rubbed the dents out of his edematous back where the soft lambs fur blanket he slept on pushed into him.

And I have walked away from my son, knowing it would be the last time I would ever see him.

I'm not any different than those mothers in those photos that my heart bleeds for, the difference is? I had to live to feel the pain it caused. And although I have no trouble acknowledging and validating their pain I haven't allowed myself to validate my own.

1 comment:

Just Jiff said...

Wow. What a beautifully written post. This made me cry.

My heart aches for your loss and your sweet, precious son.

I'm so sorry.