“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.”
“Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness.”
“We'd been trying to touch the sky from the bottom of the ocean.”
“Krasivaya. It means beautiful, but with strength. Unique.”
“Good men are often more practical than pretty " said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.”
“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”
“November 20. Andrius's birthday. I had counted the days carefully. I wished him a happy birthday when I woke and thought about him while hauling logs during the day. At night, I sat by the light of the stove, reading Dombey and Son. Krasivaya. I still hadn't found the word. Maybe I'd find it if I jumped ahead. I flipped through some of the pages. A marking caught my eye. I leafed backward. Something was written in pencil in the margin of 278.
Hello, Lina. You've gotten to page 278. That's pretty good!
I gasped, then pretened I was engrossed in the book. I looked at Andrius's handwritting. I ran my finger over this elongated letters in my name. Were there more? I knew I should read onward. I couldn't wait. I turned though the pages carefully, scanning the margins.
Are you really on page 300 or are you skipping ahead now?
I had to stifle my laughter.
Dombey and Son is boring. Admit it.
I'm thinking of you.
Are you maybe thinking of me?
I closed my eyes.
Yes, I'm thinking of you. Happy birthday, Andrius.”
“Sometimes kindness can be delivered in a clumsy way.”
“Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness. There's love and emotion trying to express itself, but at the time, it just ends up being awkward.”
He stopped and turned to me. "No. Don't be scared. Don't give them anything Lina, not even your fear.”
“Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.”
“My husband, Andrius, says that evil will rule until good men or women choose to act. I believe him. This testimony was written to create an absolute record, to speak in a world where our voices have been extinguished. These writing may shock or horrify you, but that is not my intention. It is my greatest hope that the pages in this jar stir your deepest well of human compassion. I hope they prompt you to do something, to tell somone. Only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself.”
“I planted a seed of hatred in my heart. I swore it would grow to be a massive tree whose roots would strangle them all.”
“You stand for what is right, Lina, without the expectation of gratitude or reward.”
“...we're dealing with two devils who both want to rule hell.”
“I left the jutra to chop wood. I began my walk through the snow, five kilometers to the tree line. That's when I saw it. A tiny silver of gold appeared between shades of gray on the horizon.
I stared at the amber band of sunlight, smiling.
The sun had returned.
I closed my eyes. I felt Andrius moving close. "I'll see you," he said.
"Yes, I will see you," I whispered "I will."
I reached into my pocket and squeezed the stone.”
“He threw his burning cigarette onto our clean living room floor and ground it into the wood with his boot.
We were about to become cigarettes.”
“We'd been trying to touch the sky from the bottom of the ocean. I realized that if we boosted one another, maybe we'd get a little closer.”
“Sometimes kindness can be delivered in a clumsy way. But it's far more sincere in its clumsiness than those distinguished men you read about in books. Your father was very clumsy.”
“I looked down at the little pink face in the bundle. A newborn. The child had been alive only minutes but was already considered a criminal by the Soviets.”
“What was life asking of me? How could I respond when I didn't know the question?”
“I shut the bathroom door and caught sight of my face in the mirror. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade.”
“Andrius turned. His eyes found mine. "I'll see you," he said.
My face didn't wrinkle. I didn't utter a sound. But for the first time in months, I cried. Tears popped from their dry sockets and sailed down my cheeks in one quick stream. I looked away.
The NKVD called the bald man's name.
"Look at me," whispered Andrius, moving close. "I'll see you," he said. "Just think about that. Just think about me bringing you your drawings. Picture it, because I'll be there."
"Vilkas," the NKVD called.
We walked toward the truck and climbed inside. I looked down at Andrius. He raked through his hair with his fingers. The engine turned and roared. I raised my hand in a wave good-bye.
His lips formed the words "I'll see you." He nodded in confirmation.
I nodded back. The back gate slammed and I sat down. The truck lurched forward. Wind began to blow against my face. I pulled my coat closed and put my hands in my pockets. That's when I felt it. The stone. Andrius had slipped it into my pocket. I stood up to let him know I had found it. He was gone.”
“How did I get here How did I end up in the arms of a boy I barely knew but knew I didn't want to lose I wondered what I would have thought of Andrius in Lithuania. Would I have liked him Would he have liked me”
“People I didn't know formed a circle around me, sheltering me from view. They escorted me safely back to our jurta, undetected. They didn't ask for anything. They were happy to help someone, to succeed at something, even if they weren't to benefit. We'd been trying to touch the sky from the bottom of the ocean. I realized that if we boosted one another, maybe we'd get a little closer.”
“I felt as if I were riding a pendulum. Just as I would swing into the abyss of hopelessness, the pendulum would swing back with some small goodness.”
“A wrongdoing doesn't give us the right to do wrong.”
“Good men are often more practical than pretty.”
“Tadas was sent to the principal today," announced Jonas at dinner. He wedged a huge piece of sausage into his small mouth.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because he talked about hell," sputtered Jonas, juice from the plump sausage dribbling down his chin.
"Jonas, don't speak with your mouth full. Take smaller pieces," scolded Mother.
"Sorry," said Jonas with his moth stuffed. "It's good." He finished chewing. I took a bite of sausage. It was warm and the skin was deliciously salty.
"Tadas told one of the girls that hell is the worst place ever and there's no escape for all eternity."
"Now why would Tadas be talking of hell?" asked Papa, reaching for the vegetables.
"Because his father told him that if Stalin comes to Lithuania, we'll all end up there.”
“But how can they just decide that we're animals? They don't even know us," I said.
"We know us," said Mother. "They're wrong. And don't ever allow them to convince you otherwise. Do you understand?”
“The message of Christ’s love is found in Isaiah, chapter sixty-one,” the man was saying. “God himself will restore the crumbling foundations of your life. He will give you beauty for ashes. He’ll provide redemption, no matter who you are, where you are. . . .”
“For only fools, fanatics, and mental cases can stand living at the highest pitch of soul; a sane person must be content with declaring that life would not be worth living without a spark of that mysterious fire.”
“Of two pleasures, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure.”
“Let your thoughts run free, as if your mind is taking a leisurely Sunday afternoon walk through a garden in spring bloom.
I stand in the hallway, mute. Alone. I realize: I must develop the ability to go the distance rather than just envy it.
Don't speak unless you can improve on silence
The truth is never as interesting as what people whisper about them
It's because the dream is so perfect that I can walk away from it
That blackness brought me out of the nightmare and into this morning's light”
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,’ ” he said, quoting Wordsworth. “ ‘Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;/ little we see in Nature that is ours;/ we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
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