Nightmares for a new generation

I broke my daughter…

I remember being younger than her and being squished on a bench in the school lunchroom/assembly room, hearing about the Holocaust for the first time.

It would have been the first year she’d have been with the older kids at the school assembly, and heard about it from her teachers and student performances.

Instead… I showed her the national tekes (ceremony), livestreamed this year.

In effect, I knew this was me taking her hand, clasping tight, and helping her through a dark rabbit hole of reality… but I did it anyway. I guess it just felt time. Or the livestream made it feel distant.

We’re similar, she and I, in that we are both quite sensitive to people, places, things… in general… I think today it’s common to say we’re ’empaths’. From the day I learned about the Holocaust, the nightmares began… decades of them. Sometimes filmed in sepia, most of the time in color. Sometimes the scenario was old but the situation was today’s. Sometimes it featured people I know; sometimes it featured my entire world in one room with the walls closing in.

And it’s just who I am. And I know it’s who she is.

So when I saw the first survivor tell her his story, I told her excitedly how amazing it was that people had helped him as a child!

When the second another came on, I repeated what she had seen in a more optimistic light – they got away!

But I knew from the look in her face she wasn’t buying it. There is a bigger context and she now knows it.

When the photos become more and more disturbing… and my son was asking academic questions about the dead man on the ground (“oh-” I replied, “he collapsed…”) I knew it was over. I asked if she wanted to end it early, started fast forwarding, and she said NO and I know that look. It’s my look. It’s the tense adrenaline rush I got when I accidentally watched Silence of the Lambs at age 12, or saw a horrible photo in the newspaper of a war setting. I now know. I now need to know. I need to feel it to understand it, to move on, even though I’ll never really move on. Even it feels so deeply bad.

It’s behind the eyes… it’s a recognition that I’m part of this now. I’ve seen it, and it now holds a piece of me.

She’s had this tendency since she’s conscious, with her brother, her sisters, her friends, her parents, animals, plants…

And now, with the genocide of our predecessors.

Sorry, Bebe… you’re inside it, with me now.


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