I am writing this bisl at 4:00am. Jet lag due to arriving home just last night from Krakow. A long day of over twenty hours of travel. And yet, writing in the early morning feels as if I stand between two worlds: a world of borrowed time, appreciation and gratitude and a world of practicality, efficiency and routine.
The first world has fewer travelers and it’s often in these liminal moments where we wish the jet lag hit us more often. I can hear the wind rushing outside. The deep breathing of my sleeping family soothes me. I’m reminded of the emotional and spiritual trip I just journeyed and lessons I must transition into the second, more hurried world.
At Belzec, a death camp not far from Lublin and Lvov, I read a letter written from a mother to her two year old baby. At Belzec there was no “selection.” Everyone was taken immediately to be killed. The mother that wrote the letter was giving up her child to rescuers and knew it would most likely be the last time she would see and hold her precious daughter. The letter was written in these pre-dawn hours, just moments before giving her away, reminding the baby that she was cherished, that she had parents that rocked her and fed her and cared deeply for her. That although she may question where she is from and the history of her family, she must never question the enormity and intensity of the love between her parents and their daughter. This letter was sewn into the daughter’s pocket and while the little girl survived the Holocaust, her parents did not.
I read this letter acutely aware that I am both a daughter that is loved and a parent that passionately loves her children. I read this letter realizing that too often our worlds are separated in the two described above: one world in which gratitude leads our steps and one world in which gratitude falls somewhere on the last pegs of the to do list. But the letter exists in both–reacting to the severe horror of reality with an understanding that every moment is a gift meant to be cherished.
As I write, I know the sun will begin to dip her warm rays through window and the morning routine will begin. But I won’t let one world slip away too quickly. It’s that world…a world in which we realize the magnitude of our blessings…that makes the life in this world worth living.