“I hate this stupid yellow star”, Halina said looking down at her brown coat. “It makes me feel like an insignificant dog.”
“Oh Halina,” Lillian replied as they walked arm in arm toward the ice cream shop. “You’re one of the smartest, most beautiful girls I know. Besides, you always liked yellow. I kind of like your star.”
“You wanna wear it, then?”
“No silly. Only the smartest and prettiest girls get to wear them.”
“Prettier than you, Lillian Sadowski?” Halina nudged her best friend. “Well, you do have a way of changing the way I see things. I suppose I can pretend to like my star.”
“Wonderful! Now if I could just get you to read this – “
“Oh stop it, Lillian,” shoving away the small black Bible Lillian held out. “Accepting a yellow star is one thing, but I will never accept that your Jesus is my Messiah.”
“Won’t you even read it and see for yourself what it says?”
“I don’t have to. My Messiah has not yet come. Reading that book won’t change anything.”
Lillian sighed. After her third failed attempt at getting her friend to take the Bible, she decided to employ another approach. Distracting Halina with discourse, she slipped the Bible into her friend’s coat pocket, praying curiosity would drive Halina to it.
Upon approach to the ice cream shop, Lillian reached for the door, but was jerked back by Halina, who pointed solemnly toward the sign.
Before Lillian could say a word, Halina tore away from her and ran toward home.
Lillian darted after her, finally catching up when Halina slowed to collect her breath. Lillian didn’t say a word. She just grabbed her friend’s hand and walked with her.
Things were about to get worse, however. Much worse.
Rounding the corner to Halina’s house, they came upon a dreadful scene. Rifle bearing SS soldiers were spewing commands and corralling people into the back of a large truck. Halina looked on in horror as she realized her family was among the people being herded like cattle … Mama, Papa and her brother, Stefan.
“Papa!” Halina screamed, letting go of her friend and surging toward him.
Slamming headlong into the arms of a soldier, the blunt end of a rifle escorted her into the line of Jews being forced onto the truck.
Completely powerless, Lillian stood frozen, tears streaming down her face.
The truck lunged forward. Halina’s eyes blazed with fear as she stretched out her hand toward Lillian. Lillian reached back with gut wrenching agony while the movable cage hauled her best friend away.
Strolling down Milwaukee Avenue, Lillian’s mind raced. Scanning her shopping list … a prescription for her husband, birthday present for their youngest son, ingredients for polish galumpkis and potato pancakes, and –
“Lillian? … Lillian Sadowski?”
Jarred from her thoughts, Lillian looked up to find a woman with a large scar on her face. She was staring at Lillian with wide-eyed anticipation. Lillian’s mouth dropped open and her heart skipped a beat.
“Halina? Oh my goodness, is it really you?”
They reached for each other and clung tightly, having both dreamt of this moment for twenty-four years.
“I can’t believe it’s you!” Lillian said, as she pulled back grabbing both her friend’s hands, her mind flooding with questions. “I thought you were dead. I tried to find out where you, but nobody would tell me anything.“
“After the ghetto, they deported us to Auschwitz.”
“Auschwitz?” Lillian’s hand went to her chest. “But you survived … and your family?”
Halina’s face turned somber. She shook her head.
“Oh, my dear Halina. What a dreadful experience you must have had.” Lillian gently touched the scar on Halina’s face. “How did you endure?”
Halina’s eyes lit up.
“I found the Bible.”
“I discovered it in the ghetto and only by a miracle did that Bible make it into Auschwitz. It kept me going through unspeakable horrors. Jesus revealed himself to me, Lillian. He is my Messiah!”
Lillian squealed with delight and hugged her friend again.
“You found Jesus! Oh, how I prayed for you. It’s so good to know He was with you through all of your trials.”
“I never thought I’d see you again this side of paradise, Lillian. Yet there you were, walking right toward me on Milwaukee Avenue … It’s a miracle!”
“A miracle indeed.”
The two friends began walking arm in arm.
Lillian snickered. “You want some ice cream?”
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