by Noa נעה
A short letter to my grandmother, Rebecca, who has recently passed
|*Dedicated to my Grandmother, Rebecca, who recently passed away.
I miss you. I miss you because I knew you. I perhaps did not know you as well as others knew you, but I know the kind of woman you were. I know the strength you possessed, and the beauty you upheld.
You were born into a world I have never known, in an industrial and cold Poland in the middle of the 1929 winter. And it was cold then, but a decade later it became even colder. You watched the Nazis come, Bapcia, and you counted the days of the occupation in your country until they made you move to the ghetto, miles and miles away. And they burned your synagogue, and they took away your jewelry, and you watched your father cry. Things were bad, but they would become worse.
You were taken to a sister camp of Auschwitz, and then your life became very dark. I would ask you questions about your time there when I was a child and did not know any better, and you would grow very still and very quiet, and there was much you did not remember. But you remembered the sharp loss when your own mother was killed, and then when your sisters succumbed to disease. And you remembered the joy of learning your brother had lived, only to face the hollow truth that your father had not. You said you did not weep, so I weep for you, Babcia.
You spoke much of your time in Paris. You so adored the language and the art and oh! the food. It was not good Polish food, of course, but you loved it all the same. You could not bring yourself to be a picky eater after having survived near-starvation. You spent a decade there in France, healing from your wounds and your nightmares. And then you met my grandfather.
I never met him, Babcia, but I know that you loved him. I know that you met him in Israel on holiday, and fell so in love with him and with the country that you could not bring yourself to leave. He was born to a Sephardic family, and you were just a European, but you fell in love. And you had my mother, and you named her for your sister, and you had my uncle, and you named him for your father.
And it was in Israel with your husband and children that you learned to love G-d again, Babcia. You had felt betrayed for so long, but now, years and years after the camp, you were proud to be Jewish again.
I miss you, Babcia. I miss your cooking and your dancing. I miss Shabbas in your small house by the sea, and I miss Pesach with your stories and singing.
Thank you for being strong, beautiful, and proud. Thank you for being a wonderful mother to my mother, and for being an example of resilience. Thank you for seeing the good in people, even though you had seen the worst that a man could be. And thank you for loving me, Babcia, for there is no greater gift a grandmother could give.
I love you. You will be missed.