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At 3 A.M., I woke with this consoling dream:

It’s early spring, moist, fresh greening everywhere. I’m healthy, tanned, and stand tall, soft winds teasing my short white hair. I decide to shop for a new outfit to honor the season and step inside a Women’s Boutique. Inside, most of the clothing is made of the same wide striped light green and white fabric, billowy in texture. I’m thrilled. The barrette on the matching hat also draws customers’ interest. I’m delighted by my selection of the dress and hat.

Another glimpse into my psyche shows more healing of my femininity, one that is pure gift from Higher Power, despite periodic episodes of grief.

The scene was overwhelming: Herringboned clouds bleached blueness, overhead; centuries-old oaks, freshly leafed, shaded the rolling hills, the grass resembling grown-out buzz cuts of new recruits; asphalt roads serpentined among clearly marked plots filled with the remains of women and men who had served our country in combat or peacetime. Thousands of American flags cast a pink glow upon the white oval faces of the headstones, resembling gothic doorways of ancient monks.

Cars inched around turns with tent-covered lemonade stands, with groundskeepers welcoming visitors and helping with directions. Children in T-shirts and shorts walked Indian-style behind their parents, holding pots of flowers. A heavyset lone senior leaned on her cane while scanning the row of headstones for her loved one.

It was Memorial Day, the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri, and my first visit to this historic site.

I weep with those who weep.

Coils of barbed wire leaf out and produce a nine-petaled orange flower: such is the poignant design on the cover of the memoir The Choice – Embrace the Possible (2017) by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, an Hungarian-American survivor of Auschwitz.

Sustaining this teenager through ever-present death threats for eighteen months was her mother’s counsel, “You’re responsible for whatever you put in your mind. No one can take it from you.” Another factor was her life-plan with soul mate Eric enlivening her imagination, filling it with song and dance.

Yet, after the author’s 1945 liberation from the death camp, narrated within the first sixty-nine pages of this memoir, impenetrable evil continues weighting the balance. No matter what, Eger would be the free woman she was destined to become, without Eric, without her parents and grandparents, without her language, without her country.

But how return to life? What about the residual psychic wound, stalking beneath her ghostly shudders, dreams—this wound repelled by language’s efforts to make sense of it? How live with her senses having been saturated by the gruesome? Even others assault her Jewishness in other countries. Yet, decades of harrowing psychic cleansing empowers Dr. Eger to say to us: “…I would love to help you discover how to escape the concentration camp of your own mind and become the person you were meant to be.”

In my perception, Dr. Edith Eva Eger achieved a depth of psychic freedom few experience in this life. How privileged we are to have her memoir The Choice – Embrace the Possible that shows us how to change.

Available on Amazon

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