5.20.14 No Words



It’s not often that I find myself without words.  Typically, I seem to find too many.  My thoughts are easily translated from mind to pen to page, and I feel a release (of sorts) a calm that comes after the storm of disjointed emotions that come together in a paragraph, an anecdote or a memory … but not today.  There are no words for today.

I spent the morning visiting a Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinios, the second largest in the nation.  And I thought I knew this story … their story.  I have studied it, read about it, taught it even; but it turns out I only ever knew the portions and pieces I was able to handle.  When it was too much–I stopped.  I closed the book.  I ended the conversation.  I let the past be the past.  But today, the frozen reflections of haunted faces wouldn’t let me.  I was forced to confront the ghosts of angels and demons I preferred not to see.  

The artifacts of a truth too brutal to comprehend washed over my senses until I gave the only gift of solace I had to offer that meant anything at all: my attention, my tears and my acknowledgement that this atrocity was, and still is very real.  Survivor Elie Wisel, author of a life-altering account called Night, said that, “To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice.”  So I will not.

At the end of the tour, I had the great honor and privilege to hear a testimony, a speech personally given by an eighty-one-year-old survivor.  Eleven at the time she was rescued, I began to wonder whether childhood became a warped term to her … some sordid, cruel joke of the experience I know as blessed.  The more I heard, the clearer it became that childhood was a phantom, a luxury that could not be afforded to prisoners of war. 

I remember being shaken by her admittance of not being able to talk about the war after it ended.  But then I realized, what could she say?  What could she possibly relay about what was done to her?  Taken from her?  Lost.  And so it seems I am, maybe–not so surprisingly, at a loss for words.  Because today … they could never be enough.

Please don’t forget,


One thought on “5.20.14 No Words

  1. Dear Elle, I waited till today to read “No Words” as sort of a memorial. I too, lack insight or words of comfort for any human being suffering from being treated inhumane. So instead I will pray and seek words of hope found in HIS word alone. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

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