15 January 2012

Packing lunch

Auschwitz-Birkenau: selection site
Matt went back to college today. It's a long trip for him: a plane, a subway, a train, and then a taxi. I got up early to pack him a lunch he could take with him.

Packing lunch -- an ordinary act I used to take so for granted when the lunches came two a day, every day. Now, it's almost a sacred act, feeding my children when they allow themselves to be fed by me. But, in that quiet kitchen, the rectangle of torn wax paper on the counter brought with it all the mothers who carefully packed food for a trip they didn't
Auschwitz-Birkenau: end of the tracks
want to take. They had no idea where they were going or what they'd find when they got there but they did what mothers do -- they packed food. They probably stood in their kitchens, terrified, but they did what they could do.

Long after the carefully wrapped food was eaten, too many of them sat on their suitcases, with their children all around them, in the stand of beautiful trees, and waited their turn.

It would be a lot easier to move through life wrapping sandwiches in oblivious peace...but I'm not sure I can do that ow that I know, now that I have seen.

For the moment, contentment with not knowing, not realizing, not seeing what happened, feels like sleepwalking to me.

Auschwitz-Birkenau: the woods near the gas chambers