My feelings are so great that they have spilled out of my heart, into my body, my
limbs, my clenched fingers and into my held breath.
My chest is heavy. It hurts, it overflows.
Like train cars in Ukraine, spilling into Poland, Belarus, Romania… Spilling mil-
lions of hearts. Millions of refugees.
The faint outline of a page of my memory rises from its home, hidden deep within a chapter, in a book, in a box, in the basement, in a closet behind closed doors. Stories of the Holocaust. Those told and those never told. My grandfather, one of only two survivors of a huge family. My other grandparents, refugees from an antisemitic Russia. I thought this book, this old, frayed book with generational fringes, was almost ready to be given away. Ready to be dropped off at the library for other people to read. People without fringe imprinted into their genetic memory books, without whispers of stories playing silently on a loop, without photos of family they never knew. I thought I was ready to donate my memory.
But now I can’t part with my memory book. The one that preceded me and will
outlive me in my daughter. Because now, the photos of men and boys, women and children and captions are out of the closet. In the paper, on TV, in my nightmares.
I am crying as I write, the terror and grief so unbearable that they must find an
exit. But there is nowhere to go.
We are from outside Odessa.
I am my ancestors.
I am the mothers and their children.
I am the boys and the men.
I am the strength, inspiration and resolve of a comedian turned president with a target on his Jewish back.
I am the pain of the goodbyes, searching for what to say, what to bring, what to do.
I am the frightened men and boys turned soldiers, their images reminding me of nephews and neighbors.
I am the Ukraine mothers crying for the husbands they left behind, crying for the children by their side.
I am the Russian mothers crying for their sons.
I am the courageous editor who walked on set behind the Russian newscaster
with posters of the truth.
I am her family fearing for her life.
I am the millions of people all over the world standing up for humanity.
An outpouring of love.
Sending food, care and clothing. Sending diapers and dreams, sending prayers.
Prayers for peace.
I am the Prayer.
I am the Peace.
Somewhere, very deep inside, I know this.
I Am the Peace.
And so are you.