How do they live?

Today at the pediatrician’s office I witnessed a rather disheveled looking mother trying to corral her tiny toddler daughter and her blankly staring son who was maybe 6 or so years old. He wandered and seemed to be elsewhere. Mother scolded him, chased after her daughter. Finally, their turn came and they went to see the doctor.

Later on, when I was getting ready to leave, I watched her yelling at the children, shouting what sounded like African phrases, pulling the little one up by the arm in mid-air and pacing around outside while the older boy wandered, still. And then, a red taxi drove into the parking lot at break neck speed. She shoved the boy in the back, along with the tiny toddler girl. Neither had car seats. Neither seemed to be buckled in. I felt a bit sick and very scared for them all, so when I asked for more information in the office, I got some answers. Mom is single, she is very poor, she is an illegal immigrant not entitled to services. The boy is severely autistic. The little girl is frisky but okay. How does this mother get up every morning and make it to evening?

When I left the doctor’s office, I got in my car and listened to NPR. A woman with a thick accent was telling her story of her time in a concentration camp in her youth. She related how she and her family lived “in a wall, in complete and utter silence” and since I had missed the beginning of the program, I did not know just what this meant. However, she related how one night a mother in “the wall” was frantically trying to keep her baby from crying. Just one sound might alert the Nazis and they would all be killed. The mother of the baby girl, also had two small sons who knew to keep completely still, barely breathing for fear they might be heard. The baby would not stop crying. There was a piece of burlap in “the wall” left from some potatoes. She took the burlap and suffocated the baby to make it stop crying to save the lives of her other children.

Weeks later, some “kind Christians” told these terrified Jews that it was all right to come out during the daytime instead of just at night as they had been doing. When they did, the storyteller said that she and her family ran in all different directions as fast as they could and everyone of them survived miraculously. The mother of the two sons ran too, but all three of them were killed in front of the storyteller, who was then, just a young girl.

How do these women live?