I was told, from my earliest days, the story of how special I was. Constantly. How amazing it was that I was alive. How I was born against so many odds. How much I could accomplish. How much I must accomplish because of what my grandparents had gone through decades earlier to ensure that I would someday exist. How my existence was, in and of itself, a miracle, one I could never forget or take for granted. It was a heavy load for anyone, and certainly for any child, to carry. But it was mine, and I knew it would be mine always.
I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to reconcile the shame I felt around my mom’s experience with the pride I felt about the miracle from which I was born. Even at a very young age, I knew there was something enormously different—and complicated—about all of this. I didn’t have the language or the maturity to understand it, but I had the awareness. Much later, other 3Gs told me of their similar experiences, of the simultaneous pride and pressure that came with being the great hope and triumph of the family. As the years went by, I learned that pride was a double-edged sword. With it, in many families (like mine), came angst and conflict and
unresolved issues. In my own family, the Holocaust and my grandparents’ story were almost “too” out there, too exposed,
if that were possible. We had almost too many books lying around the house on Hitler, on the Lodz Ghetto, on the Final
Solution. Later, we also had too many VHS tapes with recordings of my grandmother’s powerhouse speeches for group after group, audience after audience. It was too often the topic of conversation with just about anyone.
Was it too much? Yes, absolutely. I felt different from my friends. I felt that it was always addressed in some way or another in every situation, even the ones most removed from it. I knew I was supposed to be enormously proud, but I kind of wished it would just go away—or at least fall more into the background.
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