Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just One Tear

My heart goes out to the families of all those who lost their lives and all those who were victims of senseless terrorism in Mumbai. I do not discriminate. A life is a life, no matter the race, nationality or religion. And I am certain that what all the victims had in common was the senselessness of this act.

This was nothing but, a blood lust. There was no real agenda on the part of the terrorists. They never planned on a barter for life. There was only the state of fear and submission, that is what terrorism is. And it does not end with the immediate victims. When we watch it or hear about it, we all become terrorized. We realize, even with the compassion and sadness that we feel, we need to go on with our lives, and then it happens again, somewhere, to someone. This is a new world we are living in, because terrorism has and continues to deconstruct the evolving civilization we have become over thousands of years.

Although my thoughts and prayers are with ALL victims of this horrific act of calculated violence, the fact that a Jewish Center was a chosen target, hits closer to home for me. I am devastated by the loss of five people there, including one person who apparently is a first cousin to someone in my community, and a young couple, the Holtzbergs, who have been mentioned repeatedly in the news.

I was deliberately avoiding all the news as the hostage crisis was unfolding, because it causes me to be in a very unhealthy state of being. Like many others, when 911 was unfolding, I was glued to the news. I was also living in NY at the time and 3 family members were on 3 separate planes as the tragic events were taking place. I was depressed for months. Since 911, I try to curb the amount of time I am drawn to these stories, but Friday, early afternoon, I could do nothing to avoid the heinous news of lives lost in the Jewish Center.

I tossed and turned all Saturday night, mostly with the thoughts of a small boy who will never know his parents. He is celebrating his second birthday, just this weekend, but not with the kisses and hugs from the parents he so deserves, because their bodies are laying cold. He and his older brother, in a matter of moments, became orphans. While they certainly will be looked after by family who will show nothing less than unconditional love to them, there are no replacements for the mother and father, who should be alive for years to watch them grow and thrive. All they will ever know of their parents, is what they will be told of them.

Last night, I had a birthday to go to. Part of me felt way to down to be celebratory, but then I felt I needed to go out and remove myself from these miserable thoughts. I am happy I went. The company of women was great and although talk of Mumbai did come up for a moment, most of the talk was warm and light and laughter inducing. If we don't go on and live our lives, the terrorists will have won. If they are able to instill the fear and trepidation in us, we will forever be a civilization of terrorized people.

I am by nature, as most of us are, a compassionate, caring, sensitive person, and although I want to believe we will never hear of these stories again, I am also not naive. We have always had monsters arise in our world and it will happen again.

So the irony of my night, when I returned from the party, came in the form of a letter my father handed to me. It was a sealed envelope. Written on it was the senders name and address and a note that said, "give to Orah please". There was no stamp, so it was placed in my parents' mailbox by hand. It was sent by the former manager of a restaurant I worked at over ten years ago. Inside were two sheets. One was a letter from the sender J. She wrote that she was going through some of her parents' items and found the enclosed sheet and thought I would want it. Her parents were apparently founders of the Holocaust Memorial Society (I never knew this) and the enclosed sheet was actually a poem I had written in high school.

Although I do have a copy of this poem in my possession already, I have not seen it in years. Why do her parents have it? I started a newspaper in my H.S. and this was one of the many contributions I had written for the paper. Although, years later, when I was in college, my father (a Holocaust survivor) decided, without informing me, to enter the poem into the foundation's Holocaust Essay/Poetry contest in the College category. I only found out about this when I received a letter congratulating me on my first place win in the college division for a poem I wrote in H.S. I went to NY for an award ceremony, it was all very surreal, because I never meant for the poem to become that public. But I realized, my father submitted it as his way of letting me know how proud he was of it. He never told me in words. My father did not share much directly with his children about his experiences in the concentration camps. But I remember writing the poem after I saw him watching a graphic PBS program related to the Holocaust, and his eyes seemed teary to me.

As I re-read the poem last night, I realized more than that. We are all compassionate people, or we should be. We can easily see someones pain and their journeys through their eyes. With advanced technology, we can even watch it unfold right before our eyes. While, disheartening and painful, it is normal for us to feel for the victims. In fact, it is most probably abnormal for one to educate himself with the tragic news and not feel any empathy. Moving on from tragic news and living our lives can co-exist with "Never Forgetting". Moving on tells the terrorists and the monsters they have not won, and never forgetting reminds us to live our lives for those who can no longer live it for themselves.

Just One Tear

Just one tear,
Disclosed a tale,
When it emanated,
From my father's eye.

A tale,
So ghastly.
So baneful, it pained me.
So pernicious, I ached.

In just one tear,
I envisioned a picture.
But the shocking image,
Appeared unclear.

For I was looking,
Through a barbed-wire fence,
When I saw a skeletal form,
Being dumped into a pit.

In just one tear,
I smelled the stench,
Of reeking, torrid, fires,
Consuming Jewish flesh.

In just one tear,
I heard piercing shrieks,
From mouths just about,
To take their last breath.

In just one tear,
I felt the brutal blows,
Of clubs and whips,
By dirty, Nazi hands.

I saw all this torture and dread,
In just one tear.
My father,
He saw it in thousands.

2 have shown Orah a little love:

Brie said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. Why the heck don't more people comment on your fabulous blog?

Orah said...

I don't know, I ask myself that all the time. Thanks for your comment though.