I needed distraction & escape tonight.
My mind is still processing the past week. I miss my dad. I am glad he is finally at peace. I keep picturing his home and the chaos and madness it represents in my life. On top of that, while at home I also met up with some of my friends from my youth and we discussed the abuse that happened under our parents and our church's watchful eye.
I am facing so many demons right now, back to back to back.
Picking up my kids yesterday and spending the afternoon of a snow day with them was a perfect welcome home. We unpacked my suitcase and sorted through all of the treasures I brought home from my dad's house. But each treasure is a memory.
I didn't sleep well last night. I spent too much time replaying the past week. I enjoyed so many great moments connecting with my family, but there really wasn't much time to mentally process the twist and turns.
4:50 am came way too early today. I had prayed for at least a two hour delay due to the snow, but our school status showed "normal". I made it through my day as normal as I could, but I don't feel normal right now. I feel prickly, tender and agitated.
When I picked up the kids from school today, I did the normal "tell me about your day and what homework do you have" routine. My son announced that the only homework he had was to read his book. I asked him what book they were reading. He told me it was a book about a boy during the Holocaust. I didn't recognize the name so I just continued driving.
I went in to Liam's room to see how his reading was coming and he said he was done. He showed me the book again and where he had read to. As I opened the cover to read about the book, I noticed it was about a boy on Schindler's List.
How funny I told him. Schindler's List was the movie I first saw Liam Neeson in and was when he became my favorite actor. Rob Roy is my other favorite Liam Neeson movie.
Both are about the difference one person can make in the world.
I first learned about the Holocaust in third or fourth grade by reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I have never been able to pin down why I connected so deeply with this book and the struggle of the Jews during WW2, but I did.
My family is not Jewish or gypsy or Polish.
The only people different than me that I had ever met in my small town life were vegetarians. I was in fourth grade and they ate very weird food for southerner's. I didn't even know anyone Jewish until I met my Dad's girlfriend and her daughter on my first trip to Europe at age 20 to see my dad. I was so glad she didn't think it odd that we spent vacation time traveling to WW2 sites.
I would love to fancy that in a former life I was a Jew in Europe or maybe someone who helped the Jews around me. All I know for sure was that a spark was ignited in me and I have soaked in everything that I could about the people who helped, the people who killed and the people who survived.
The more I read, the more my heart broke for these families, these people.
Late this afternoon my son handed me his book. I finished it shortly after dinner. I devoured it and enjoyed every moment of escape it brought me. I like to read the books my children do, but there isn't always time. Honestly, I don't always have any interest in their "required reading material." Tonight I had plenty of interest and had only hoped to catch up with his bookmark. Instead I finished it shortly after dinner. I devoured it and enjoyed every moment of escape it brought me.
The author does a great job at describing the horribly ugly part of what life in the ghetto was like while still writing from the youthful prospective of a boy. The hunger and the lack of food is what I hope makes this boy's story come to life for my always starving, never full string bean. I hope this book shapes my son's life like Anne Frank forged mine.
Other than bringing my children into this world, some of the other really powerful moments of my life was getting to go to Amsterdam and visit the office that Anne and her family hid in.
The office hiding the staircase to the attic is very small and each sound echos. Each step up the narrow too short stairs into the attic brought the book alive. I stood on my tippy toes to look at the only window Anne had into the world. I measured off with footsteps how very small the space she and her family occupied with the other families in hiding with them. Now as a mom to a daughter who whistles all day long and a son who is becoming a grown up and children who walk like herds of elephants, I look back at my moments in that attic and cry for the daily, hourly stress families in hiding faced.
We still have so very far to come as a people to protect, to feed and safely shelter the weakest among us. There are still so many places in this world where parents fear for their children and their safety every single day.
My son is just beginning to expand his knowledge to the realities of the world and I expect there to be a day when he asks me how we continue to let hate and fear dominate so much of the world. For today, he believes that this was the only holocaust that has happened. I believe him to be a man of great heart and empathy.
I hope he will always believe in the difference one man can make in this world.
The Boy on the Wooden Box, a Memoir Leon Leyson
I am thinking that the next trip back east to see my sister will include a trip with my kids so that they can experience The Holocaust Museum in D.C. The exhibits don't require a great deal of in-depth reading to understand the enormous scope and loss that happened in such a short time, while so many chose to not get involved.