February 1940, Germany
"Can you hear them? They are getting closer now."
I could only whisper those words into his ears, I knew he could barely hear me, and his mouth was too dry to answer, but I still asked. I wanted to hear his voice for the last time before he was taken away from me. Just like they took my husband. Tears welled up in my eye as I looked down at him in my arms. I held onto him closer and tighter than ever before. I just couldn't bear the thought of losing him. We haven't had anything to eat in days and I fear that I would lose him even before the Nazis get here. His eyes were dimmed, and he has lost so much weight in the past couple of weeks.
Before the war, we lived, and life was good.
When the war started, we had to leave our home in Warsaw, the Nazis were rounding up all the Jews taking them to the ghettos. About 30 percent of the city’s population moved into a small area causing overcrowding and insanitary living conditions, I couldn’t bear the thought of it. We heard the most horrific things about the ghettos, and the unbearable living conditions so we fled and went into hiding.I was 2 months pregnant when we left Warsaw. My husband had a friend here in Łódź and that’s where we came to. It was okay at the beginning but now,the Nazis have just established another ghetto in the northeastern part of Łódź and like a DeJaVu they were rounding up all the Jews and taking them to this new ghetto.
"How did we get here?"
I am Gypsy but my husband is Jew or should I say "was." No difference anyways as long as we were not German, we were preys for the Nazis to devour. We heard an old German woman down the street had been giving out bread to Jews in secret and so my husband left us here in this dark basement, with no water and food. 3 days now, my husband kissed me goodbye just to get us bread down the street and he hasn’t returned.
Last night, blood flowed down my legs, I lost the baby I was carrying. I couldn’t cry, I haven’t cried, and I don’t why, I’m trying to, but I can’t. I know my husband is dead, but I keep telling my son that he is coming back, I keep telling him we’ll go home soon, and our lives will be back to normal, that he would soon be able to go back to school, see his friends and dance on the playground before I pick him up from school. But they’re all lies, and it breaks my heart. His dad is never coming back, his friends are probably dead, and he might close his eyes soon and never be able to open them again.
I had dreamt of beautiful things for him, for us, for all of us, even my unborn child. We had a garden and I spent most of my days there daydreaming. It was filled with lilies and butterflies. The day I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was so excited to tell my husband I couldn’t wait for him to be back from work so I went out to the garden and I laid down on the grass and looked up to the clear blue sky, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was beautiful. I’ll do anything to go back to my garden now and to smell the Lilies and watch my son chase those butterflies.
I looked down at my son again..
“Would we survive this? And even if we do, is this war ever going to end?”
Those were the questions running through my mind every second I heard the voice of the Nazi soldiers a few blocks away and every time I heard the sound of a gunshot, Or the rhythm as they matched up the street. Right now, I am hoping for the worst. Even if they don’t find us down in this basement, we are going to die of starvation.
“Philip, Do you remember the butterflies?”
I whispered into his ears again
He opened his eyes and looked at me, he gave a weak nod and asked
“Am I ever going to see them again?”
His voice was so low I could barely hear him, I couldn’t lie to him anymore, and for the first time in months tears rolled down my eyes. I looked down at him, my face hot with tears, I didn’t want this to be the last image he has of me and I knew they were going to rip him off my arms as soon as they bust into the basement and honestly, I was determined to give him up without a struggle, I didn’t want them to shoot him so I knew I had to let him go before they get here. They were next door now; I can hear them clearly.
“Yes honey, you are going to see them again”
I lifted him and sat him up, he was so thin and light it didn’t feel like I was carrying anything.
“But when?” he asked...
I didn’t want to lie to him, and I wasn’t going to. There’s no point in lying now. We heard a loud bang on the door upstairs, they are here. I looked at him and whispered in his ears.
“WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES.”
I couldn’t control the tears anymore they were flowing from my face, my baby boy was going to be taken away from me.
“Don’t you forget, okay? Whenever you close your eyes, I’ll be there, your dad would be there and even the butterflies. They can take everything from you, but they can never take your mind. So, chase the butterflies my sweet boy.”
He was crying now, I heard the door of the basement open, and I didn’t want him to see what was going to happen next, I didn’t want that to live in his head. I saw the first nazi soldier staring at me, this time I didn’t whisper, with a trembling voice I said to him loud and clear.
“CLOSE YOUR EYES”