Christmas holidays of 1989 found me in bed, sick with a high fever and a nasty cough. Everything in my body hurt, but in all truth, the pain of my spirit, the emotional pain was far greater! It always IS, regardless the general denial present in our culture. Mine, at the time, felt like a … blob of confusion and questionings of my own past judgments and life changing decisions and of course, future consequences.
As sick as I felt, I was probably not as ill as I remember, because I I had the strength to turn on the television and watched the news. Television… I guess, a sickness of our culture, the voices coming out of a lifeless object conveniently giving me the illusion of having company, of not being alone…
At first, I thought I imagined what I heard on CNN, in 1989. I wondered if perhaps, what I perceived as reality and the news I heard, were only a result my deep desire which surfaced in the form of CNN news. Perhaps it was caused by the high fever.
I swallowed another pill of Motrin. The fever went down, but the news stayed on!!! Details, and more details, Ceausescu, the President of communist Romania spoke to the crowds in the square,Far in the background, I could see on and off the apartment building where I lived. My childhood street. I was already teary, listening to the lies I knew so well, because there is nothing more accurate than first hand experience.
As I was trying to get a glimpse of my parent’s apartment, as if it was possible to touch the TV screen and move the image to my convenience, I heard a wave of angry voices coming from the crowds. Generally, people were bused in for Ceausescu’s endless speeches, and ordered to cheer him. Hmm… something went wrong, the always obedient grew stronger and stronger, until Ceausescu’s voice seemed weak and insignificant compared to the unexpected outcry of determination of the people in the square! The message, which I perceived as coming from the hundreds assembled in the square was that of the roar of an unstoppable storm. The message was simple and universally translatable: We had enough! Enough lies, terror, lack of freedom and poverty!
The coverage continued, the plot tickened. Ceausescu tried to overcome the roar of the crowds with his voice, but power is in numbers, and suddenly, for the first time I saw a human emotion expressed in his eyes: FEAR!
President Nicolae Ceausescu, and his wife, Elena escaped in a helicopter, to only be captured later and faced the long due judgment of the people they cowed for almost 40 years, with no remorse. The CNN cameras were so close to their faces, I could see the horror and disbelieve in their eyes.
At last, the verdict was given and they were executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day 1989.
They fell to the ground under the rain of bullets shot at them by the executioners. Everything seemed surreal… Their death marked the fall of communism in Romania, as similar events took place everywhere in other communist countries. Communism became history.
Years before 1989, as thousands of others, I chose freedom at any risk. I didn’t want to exist, but to truly live. I wanted to speak up, or tell a political joke, without the fear that the following day. a security officer would knock at my door and arrest me for disobeying the “rules” of the regime. I wanted to write and travel I couldn’t take their rules or obey them any longer! What were the rules? Truth be told, there was one rule and various branches of it. The root was the same: OBEY blindly!!!
I couldn’t do it any more, and left my native country. I knew the risks, and only imagined the rewards, still there was no question in my mind, at the time, there could have been nothing worse than killing the human spirit and what made us, humans, unique among all others: Our capability to think, to create and be free to do so without the fear of negative consequences!
On that day, of Christmas of 1989, still shivering with fever, watching the dead bodies of the very people whose rulings determined me to leave my native land, I made a promise to myself:
NEVER SAY NEVER! I never thought it possible for communism to end and Ceausescus to be executed and pay for their crimes. Yet it happened!
As years went by, and communism became “a concept,” something that younger generations cannot imagine as having been “that bad,” I looked back at life as a whole. At both lives the Higher Power allowed me to experience, both in Romania and America. Did I ever imagine the fall of communism could become a reality? No, never, in my most unrealistic dreams or hopes. Yet, I was wrong! The apparently rock-strong system of terror came to an end.
The only certain concept was, and will always be, CHANGE!
Twenty years later, holding in my hands the published book I wished to write with such burning desire that I didn’t allow any obstacles to stand in my way, I promised myself:
Never say never, and always HOPE and act as if anything is possible!
This became the guiding principle of my life, and for it I am grateful to the Higher Power which supported me in the hardest, strangest of circumstances, and continues to do so, in spite of my doubts and questionings.
Do I believe in God? The most accurate and honest response is: WE have a relationship. Ups and downs, doubts and gratefulness. At least there is a relationship and as anyother is not perfect, but it’s strong and it exists!