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One Last Time Together

July 18, 2020

Dear Oma,

Why did you have to go? 
I know you where old.
And I know you had quite a life. 
I know you where strong, but why do I have to speak in past tense now?

Why did you have to go?
You where Jewish.
Your parents where poor.
You couldn’t find food,
you would even eat flowers just to stay alive.
You have told me the stories of your friends being killed because they where Jewish.
I am so so glad that wasn’t you.

You where sent to  a camp where you where told you would die. 
Your hair was ripped out
You whore striped pajamas 
You “looked like a Jew”
You “looked like you where about to die”
You “looked vulnerable”
because you were:
You were supposed to die
You didn’t 
And I am so so glad that you didn’t.

You where abandoned as child.
You parents died in that camp, and they just couldn’t escape. You told me stories of your parents, and how they were alway there for you just like you where there for me. You told me how they died, and I cried and cried and cried.
And I am so so glad you weren’t them.

We went to Ellis island to see your foot steps, your records, and your life.
Your description wrote “brown haired Jewish child”
That was it. Just a simple description of the most generic Dutch child ever, for you have always been more than a brown haired Jewish child. Every single year at the end of school we would have to write about our hero, you where mine, and you will always be mine.

We tracked down the chest that you carried your stuff in to America.
If only that chest could talk.
That chest would talk about the story of a strong, independent woman, that ran away from death, ran away from her family, ran away from her country just so she could have a better life, and stay alive,

You told me stories of kids that weren’t accepted to go to America, and got killed. You told me about Abbigail, who got strangled because her father pick pocketed to get money for food. You told me stories of Ada who got put in a gas chamber just because her mother was try to sneak on to the boat illegally to be able to go to America with her.
I am so so glad you weren’t them.

You lived till one hundred and ten. You saw me your great grandchild. You saw my cousins, you saw my dog, you heard my  voice, you heard my pleads for help, you  felt my discomfort, you felt my pain, you where there with me through thick and thin.

You live for one hundred and ten years, and those years where filled with that “brown haired Jewish child growing up, to tell her stories to her great grandchildren in a small little cottage in New York, where you first grew up. 

I have always though you were immortal, by the advice you gave, the pain you shared, the strength you had, and the life you lived, but you weren’t. And I am so so sorry you weren’t.

You left me and guess what, I am so, so angry. You left me and I hate that, but I love the way you smiled, I loved when you sweared in Dutch and in English,  I loved your humor, your amazing advice, and most of all your stories, some true others not. You told your life through the stories. Your life from beginning to end, because every time you opened your book there was a brand new chapter. And every chapter told me something new, and shaped me into who I am today.

Today we had to decide what to do with your ashes it took a very long time to figure it out but we eventually did. I remember your face when you found out that the University Of Washington wanted to study your body. I remember the face of when you realized that you could help others, and  after hours and hours of crying we realized that no matter what we did with your ashes your spirit will always be with us. And your spirit, and guidance, telling us how we can help others, was more than enough than a grave.

Oma I love you, you have changed my life, you have saved my life, you remembered your past, so that some day I can remember mine, no matter where your ashes are, no matter if you are alive or dead, I will always love you, and you will no longer live in past tense.

This poem is dedicated to Bertal Van Eaks

This is all true. My great grandma oma, grew up in Germany, and was Jewish, she met the love of her life in World War Two, and survived it, she lived till the age of 110, and beat cancer six times, but the seventh was the last time one. Pls give me any notes cause I would love to hear them. Thanks!

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