As the granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors the word “Survivor” has always held great meaning and power in my life. They lost first spouses, parents, siblings and all extended family. They endured incomprehensible experiments done to their bodies and witnessed heinous crimes through five different camps and a span of several years. Yet, they survived. My grandparents found each other a few years after the liberation, married, had two children and move to The United States. It is because they were survivors that I exist today. More recently, my youngest daughter has become a member of this incredible community and earned the label of survivor. Born perfectly healthy a virus somehow got into her spinal fluid and by the time we got her to the hospital when she was 8 days old, they told us she was minutes away from dying. We spent the next 3 months with her on full life support in the PICU as she fought for her life. She did pass at one point and they brought her back to us. Once she turned the corner we were told she’d be brain damaged, deaf, blind and who knows what else. She just turned 3 years old and is brilliant. She’s not deaf, she’s not blind, and she’s advanced beyond her age. However, the virus did damage her heart a great deal and we are currently preparing for her second open-heart surgery. She has spent over 160 days of her 3 year old life in the PICU. She is also a survivor.
These are the reasons I bought the key. And even though my daughter is still fighting to live, I recently met another survivor whom I believe deserves the key even more. A young lady named Chanel walked into my classroom not too long ago and impacted me forever. She was kind enough to tell me that my daughter inspires her to live on, but what she doesn’t realize is that the feeling is mutual. I know she wants to give up sometimes. That’s normal when things get this hard. But, she hasn’t given up and that takes more courage than anything. Chanel is a Survivor and I look forward to the day she can pass the key on to someone who needs it more than her. But for right now, hold it close to your heart Chanel, and continue to fight on.