Hello all! It's been a while since I last posted but last week and weekend were a bit of a whirlwind. My family and I drove up to Canada for my Grandmother's (this is the same grandmother that The Number on Her Arm is based on) unveiling service in Toronto on Sunday, and then drove back home again to D.C. on Monday. Although 10+ hours in the car each way over such a short span of time is definitely a bit draining, the trip itself was a great success. The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend; I got to spend extended periods of time with my Uncle, Aunt, and three first cousins; I went on fun outings around Toronto with very close family friends who live there; and my husband and four year old nephew got to experience Toronto for the first time as well as meet my Canadian family members.
Aside from the memorable experiences visiting Toronto, I'd have to say the actual experience of my grandmother's unveiling service proved to be the most memorable. While I had been to the cemetery where my grandmother and my grandfather are buried back in January for her funeral, I did not notice at the time that my grandparents are buried at a cemetery where many groups of Holocaust survivors and their families are also buried. Both my grandparents were originally from Poland and this cemetery has several memorials for families members who either survived or were lost in the Holocaust, all organized by town. My grandparents' last name was Gorewicz (my grandmother's maiden name was Blum) and a huge memorial in the cemetery listed about 10 other Gorewicz family members who did not survive during the Holocaust.
In addition, it was incredibly moving to see my grandparents' headstones joined together as one; they are finally back together again after having been apart for so long. I got the chance to decorate their headstones with stones I brought from home which were actually from my wedding three years ago. In Judaism, it is customary to place stones on headstones while visiting loved ones as opposed to leaving flowers, cards, or trinkets. At my wedding, guests received stones to sign and leave well wishes instead of writing them in an official guestbook. Three years later, I still have a huge box of unused stones in my closet, so my grandparents were finally able to experience a special part of my wedding which they were unfortunately unable to attend.
Even more powerful was the fact that the back of my grandparents' gravestone officially honored them as Holocaust survivors and also paid tribute to their family members that were not so lucky.
It is never easy to be at a cemetery and visit relatives who you wish were still walking alongside you. However, I take solace in knowing that my grandparents and many of their family members are together again, getting the honor and respect they so well deserve.
After about a week and a half of back and forth, tweaking proofs with the printing company I chose to print The Number on Her Arm, as of this morning, we officially went to press. Grandma and Grandpa, I'm working hard to make sure many, many more people can honor you...and soon.