Monday, November 2, 2009

all the world at rest

I spent some time yesterday reading through a folder full of emails from my time in Krakow. My father actually saved every single email I sent to him and burned them onto a cd for me. I saved them to my laptop, in case the cd ever goes missing! They will come in handy when I finally write my book, but that is another story!

I found this one, and it struck me, as I wrote it six years ago this weekend. Like the expression says, it seems like just yesterday. I can still remember the feeling I had that evening in the cemetery and I can feel the goosebumps I had. It was such a moving experience and I wanted to try to share it with my parents and aunt (my aunt and mother are sisters, and their mother, my grandmother is Polish- her father, my great-grandfather was born in the Krakow area and moved to the U.S. at a young age).

From : Lexilooo
Sent : Saturday, November 1, 2003 2:45 PM
To : Mum, Daddy, Auntie
Subject : All Soul's Day

So today is All Souls Day in Poland. Well, I guess it is
everywhere, but here, it's a big deal and a national holiday.
People go to the cemetery and light candles on the graves of
their loved ones. I hadn't gone last year, because I didn't
quite realize the significance of the day, but we decided to
go today. We waited until dusk, because then you can see all
the lit candles and all. We went to Rackowicki, the biggest
cemetery in Krakow. It's actually not too far from the flat I
lived in all year. As we were getting closer, you could see
the candles burning in the different colored holders. It
really was incredible. There were little kiosks along the way
set up so you could buy candles if you didn't have any with
you. There were so many people there, I couldn't believe it.
Because of the burning candles and since it was dark, there
were shadows everywhere and it was hard to see where you were
walking and I was afraid I was going to fall. We just walked
around for a while, looking at the different gravestones. Some
were so old and falling over, some were brand new. There were
also large ones for families, then ones with just one or two
people on the stone. I was looking at names, and I saw one
that could have been Grammy's family, but I am not sure. The
problem is that I am not sure exactly how she spelled her
maiden name, but also, there are variations in spelling. It
was Komoszinski, but the sz makes a sh sound, or it could be
just an s with an accent, which also makes that sound. It
looked pretty old and I couldn't make out any of the dates on
it. Plus, of course, the lighting was very poor, as we were
relying on candle flames to read inscriptions. There is a
chapel inside, and there was a priest inside who was reading
names off a list. When you walked in the gates, you could give
money to someone and they'd add your loved ones name to the
list that would be read. I guess it's like when people dedicate
masses at home, but there are so many people, that they can't
do that. It was so eerie though, hearing this voice boom down
from what seemed like the Heavens, listing out name after name
after name..."Stanslawa, Agnieszka, Irena, Francuszka,
Wiktoria, Magdalena, Przemyslaw, etc..." After so many names,
he would stop, and you'd hear this bell ringing, and I had
chills going up and down my spine. I wish I could adequately
describe the feeling and the mood, but there is no way. You'd
look around and there were candles burning for what seemed
like miles around you. They were in those little plastic
holders that were different colors, so in a weird way, it
seemed like Christmas, because you could see the different
colors surrounding the flames. I would have taken a picture,
but it wouldn't have come out and also, it seemed a bit
disrespectful to me. It was like how at Auschwitz, you are
allowed, but the first two times I was there, I couldn't bring
myself to do it, but the third time I went, I took a few. I'd
like to go there once more before I come home, I think.
Anyway. Really though, it was such an incredible feeling and I
wish that you could have seen it. I wish Grammy could be here.
How was she yesterday? I was thinking of her all day and
wanted to call, but I don't have a phone, so I couldn't. She
was in my thoughts though, please let her know that. I sent a
note, but it may not have arrived on time.

I'm going home now. I'm tired. I didn't do much all day, but I
am still exhausted. I think the the nights of staying up
working on the thesis are catching up with me and now that I
am done, I can reward myself with extra sleep.

Much love,


I remember the feeling I had when I saw the grave marker with what could have been my family name. As I said in the email, I wasn't sure, because of the possible spelling variations, in addition to the stone being quite old. I wanted to go back the next day, to see it in the daylight, but I knew that there was no way I'd ever find it again, because we made so many turns, I had no idea where it was.

This weekend would also be my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. My grandfather passed away very suddenly the December prior to this, so that was their first anniversary for my grandmother without him. They had the most amazing love, like no other I've ever seen. I can only hope that my marriage will emulate theirs, but I'm not sure that anything else ever could. The love they shared was like none other.

Many of my memories of Krakow have been tucked back into a corner of my heart, to be kept safe for always. There are some moments, like this one, that I don't want to ever forget.


Rachel H. said...

Isn't it awesome to have these types of emails to remember things by...I love that you were able to get them all saved!

The Pink Chick said...

I love that you have your e-mails! What a wonderful way to remember such a special time! I have a tendency to save my old calendars. I love to look back at them and see what I was doing that same day 3 or 4 years ago!