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Story of 8

storyofeight1This is the story of 4 eight year old girls, each wearing a red dress. They come from the eras of 1915, 1948, 1972 and 2012.

They are my grandmother, my mother, me and my daughter, a chain of 8 year olds spanning nearly 100 years. The story of these girls shuttles back and forth around our planet.

In my initial thinking about this exhibit I was deeply influenced by a tale of therapy I read in a book written by Moshe Lang entitled Resilience: Stories of a family therapist.

It was the story of the son of a Holocaust survivor who had persistent pain in his neck on the left side that would not remedy in any way and was starting to distress him immensely. In that tale it was traced back to the trauma suffered by the father in surviving the Holocaust. By being young and fit the father had been spared death as he could be usefully deployed around the camp. His parents, however, had not. In the initial registration to the camp they had been sorted to the left and the right. His parents had been sorted to the left and subsequently murdered, he had been sorted to the right and survived.

Somehow the father’s guilt or pain of looking to the left had been transmitted to the son. The only thing was, the father had never told his son this story. It was unspeakable, unknowable, unbearable. But somehow his body had told the tale and the son, who must have loved his father, had carried it for him in the pain in his neck. Once this story was revealed and understood the pain in the son’s neck resolved.

I cried when I read this story and still do when I recall it. I was imagining the watchful observance children have of the parents they love, and fear, and need, and leave…The way their love story is loyal and eloquent, even if they are holding the unbearable parts of their story. The bits they can’t decipher -and most stories are fragmented with undecipherable chunks of code for children, are held and carried.

In a way I am too close to my own story, but I am guessing at it in a clumsy way. Next…