My eyes were red and watery from crying as people looked at me when they entered the front door of the museum. I could feel their apprehension upon entering the building for fear of an emotional reaction similar to mine. I felt like I was the poster boy for ‘Holocaust Pain’—and I didn’t like it.
My daughter’s arm soon wrapped around my shoulders. “Dad, It’s okay. You need to get it all out.”
I should have been happy that I was getting all those trapped emotions out of my body. I should have been happy that my daughter was so comforting and gave me permission to cry.
But the tears would not stop. Tears that were like the flames that the Nazis started when they burned shops and businesses down.
My tears were like the pain of the Holocaust that doesn’t end. It never ends, I thought. It lingers like the crematorium smoke that billowed up to the red and black sky over those concentration camps.
My daughter took my hand as we walked a few blocks.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “Trust me.”
Soon we pushed our way through the plastic screen entrance of the Smithsonian Butterfly Garden and was greeted by thousands of friendly winged creatures landing on flowers, floating over our heads, in front of our noses, and at our feet. I marveled at their exquisite colors and designs. I was mesmerized by their frenetic energy.
In that instant, it hit me. The idea flooded my thoughts and my watery eyes began to dry up.
I imagined that the butterflies were all the dead Holocaust victims rising up again. They rose from the furnace of death and hate. The black smoke from the crematoriums billowed up, but this time, once the smoke hit the sky, the bodies of all those millions of people were transformed. They transformed into a large cluster of butterflies. They spread their wings in happiness and forgiveness.
All the people who once were in pain were no longer hurting, but were now reborn, celebrating a new day, an evolution of their lives. They rejoiced in their frenetic flutter. They will live forever, I thought. Their beautiful memory will never be destroyed.
My daughter turned to me and smiled. There were no more tears.