Two teenagers met in a small town. They saw each other from across a dance room floor. The girls was a meager fifteen. I would have never known what love is then. People read romance novels, but nothing compares to real life.
The world was becoming an ugly place amplifying each year. By 1942, it was almost unrecognizable. Two Jewish teens entangled had little chance to make it. So my grandparents held on as long as they could. Everything was scarce. My grandfather trained as a Jeweler in a nearby town in Romania. He had money and he knew people. He walked around in coats lined in fur with the picture of a beautiful woman in his pocket, yet he was the humblest man I ever knew. He would sneak pantyhose to my grandmother from the blackmarket. Pantyhose.
In 1942 he gave my grandmother a necklace. The charm was a little gold book and engraved inside it said "Ibinek". Which means "My Ibi", Ibi is my grandmother. Then they were separated. The Germans were carrying out their final solution and Jews were ripped from towns. My grandfather was sent to a labor camp and my grandmother, with her mother and sister and grandmother, to a concentration camp.
The horrors they faced, the stories I have grown up hearing were terrible. Words can barely describe what a young girl had to face in a cold world. But those are not the horrors I need relay now. This is the story about love. They were apart each watching everyone they knew and loved being murdered around them. Neither knowing if their other half was alive.
The war was finally over and my grandmother was sent to Sweden to recuperate and work. She did not know if my grandfather was alive. Once she was better she placed an ad in the Jewish Press. If my grandfather was out there, she was going to find him. After a while she heard back that someone knew that his brother was in Israel and he may be with him.
She went to look for him. She had nothing. Her family was gone and she needed to rebuild a life for herself. She entered the war at 17 and now she had aged centuries past that. After seven years of being separated, they were reunited. Seven years of fire, pain, murder, heartache and hardship two teens in love from the old level reconnected.
My grandfather had the picture of her in his wallet through the whole war. He held onto it like it was the last piece of food the earth held. That' a love story. I grew up comparing everything to the way they looked at each other from across the kitchen. Everything less than half of what they had would fall short. They are impossible shoes to fill and yet I will search forever. I have never seen two people like that. I am not ever sure love like that exists. The only feeling that can be slightly on par is the way we all feel about them.
I spent my life looking at that necklace and feeling every ounce of pain and love that it represented. It was a different time then and that's what was left of it. I always looked at it as a treasure, the most valuable thing this world held.
And, for my 20th birthday I was given that necklace.