“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
- Elie Wiesel
I spent my nights concealed in cotton quilts, hiding from devils in the corners of the room and begging the sun to rise from its watery slumber and vanquish the evil from my memories. Nothing changed with the dawn; when the daylight was brightest, beaming through the windows, the panes of my soul were dark as night.
The silence sent my world into isolation worse than the darkness because every shifting shadow poised to rip him from my dreams, the only place he stayed safe and warm and fed. They’d stolen him from me once, yet insisted upon returning nightly to repeat the great theft. I hadn’t been able to save him, and though we fought fate valiantly, taking up arms against the gods of providence, he was lost to tragedy.
With the light, I woke from restless slumber to an empty, cold place in both my head and heart—a reminder of failures unfathomable. Routine became my mantra: bathe, dress, eat, work, eat, home, eat. The romance of life dashed away with the laborious tasks of typing and filing and filling my coffee cup again and again to remain awake.
On and on, my days went as such—the habitual life of a heartsick woman—until I planned my own destruction. A cyanide pill and knife awaited me, for I would fall by my own hand and join my love in the dark forever. On the day of reckoning, however, I found what I’d been hunting for five long years. His name was there in black and white, but I wasn’t meant to see it; wasn’t meant to find out.
I’d seen Linz and witnessed the stench and eery quiet of death and hopelessness. Dachau would have been no different. But, fighting all odds, he hadn’t died there as I’d been told. He was alive. Alive!
I pushed back from the desk, sending papers scattering in a tornado flurry of ivory as I rushed to the relay operator.
“I must get a message to New York. Now.” My voice shook with trepidation, violent waves to my ears, but there was no time to spare. He’d been released from Dachau, but each passing moment as a Jew in Europe was another in which he could be destroyed.