A Jewish family hides as the dark shadow of hate surrounds them. A special moment awaits.
I hear heavy boots on the steps, guttural language as they throw crates and cartons out of the way.
My heart will surely explode if it continues to race. I feel like an innocent bunny cornered by a vicious hungry dog. My palms are stuck together and I am frozen in this spot.
"Run, you stupid fool!" I instruct my feet but they remain glued to the floor.
Shouting is all around. My ears feel as if they are bleeding. I am trying to pray, "God, please let us vanish! I will obey your commandments! I promise to be a good girl."
The awful truth grips me as my bladder lets go. It is too late for us.
I know who gave us away. Greta had to have been strong armed, told her elderly parents would be tortured or killed. An offer of money or food wouldn't have opened her mouth. She is truly one of God's angels on Earth. Not many will risk their lives for Jewish "filth".
Storm troopers don't knock or gently open the door. It is all violence and aggression. Once they are in the room, they seem disappointed by the quiet dignity of our family. It is not resignation but an agreement. Papa has spoken to us about how we will react if it should happen.
They bark orders, "You may each bring a bag. Hurry!"
Then time seems to stand still. for an enchanted moment, in the middle of chaos.
My mother picks up her mother's engraved hairbrush. She smiles at me and pats the velvet cushion on the vanity chair. She begins to brush my long dark curly hair from the scalp down. She follows each stroke with the touch of her hand just like every night before bedtime. I see the two of us in the mirror. I look so much like her. Those heartfelt strokes were her last gift of love. I never saw her again but can feel her hands on my head; kind, calm and strong like her spirit.
By Kathie Stehr
August 4, 2014