In my generation, many of us who are today in our 50s and 60s grew up with parents who had survived the Holocaust. My parents are American-born and I wasn't exposed to the kind of difficult home life that many of my friends experienced with parents who had gone through unimaginable horrors. Not just one day, once horrific incident, but months and years of unending terror and horror. How did these people survive? How did they have the strength to marry and start families? Many of them were children, no older than the Newtown children, when they saw their families, friends and neighbors massacred and they themselves struggled for survival. Therapists are speaking today about the difficulties that the children of Newtown, the survivors and their families are going to have in "moving on." How did the Holocaust survivors move on?
My friends' parents who had lived through the hell of the Holocaust continued on with their lives at a time when it was unacceptable to "dwell" on your past. They were expected to move on into the next stage of their lives and succeed and somehow forget the past. Today, thank goodness, there's much more understanding of how impossible that is. But then? I was a subject that simply wasn't recognized.
All over the world there are people walking around who have been through horrors....I use the Holocaust as an example, because I remember how lacking in understanding we were in those days of what post tramautic stress really is and how it can change you, destroy you. But everywhere, there are people who lived through events that no eyes should have seen, no ears should have heard. And they are victims as surely as if they had been killed as well.
In Israel, where, unfortunately, acts of terror are all too common, we feel this. Last month there was a bus bombing in Tel Aviv. No "casulaties." But how often do any of us think about the ways that the lives of the survivors of that bus bombing have changed. Physical treatments, new disabilities, handicaps....true, there were no funerals to cry over, but the survivors need our thoughts and understanding as well.
May the people of Newtown be comforted, in some small way, by knowing that our thoughts and prayers are with them. And may none of us ever experience what those people have encountered. Our morning prayers include the request that God save us from "bad occurances." I never thought about the words as much as I have in the last few days.