World War II had been going on for four long years. Four years during which I entered adolescence. Four years during which I tried to understand all that was going on in my small town of Riskava, located on the border of Romania and Hungary. Four years of rumors, restrictions, fears, and prayers.

Then came the day we had been dreading; we were all forced to leave our homes, and live in the ghetto. Our stay there was one month filled with anxiety, apprehension, and many prayers.

All too soon, it was our turn. My family was given twenty-four hour notice to evacuate the ghetto and go to an unknown destination.

My family was given twenty-four hour notice to evacuate the ghetto My mother, may she rest in peace, epitomized the role of a Jewish mother. As she packed, she worried about all of us, and about me in particular. I was the youngest, and had been ill frequently. I was thin, caught colds easily. What would be with me? She decided to make a quantity of cookies – rich cookies, with a good amount of oil and eggs. She wanted something that would provide energy, that wouldn't spoil, and that I, her fussy daughter, would eat. She packed warm clothing and whatever food she could, preparing until the last minute. The next morning, it was time to leave the ghetto.

We were loaded onto cattle cars, in horrible conditions, but at least we were together. I asked my mother for some cookies, but was only given one or two. 'We have to dole them out frugally,' my mother explained. 'We need them for wherever they are taking us.'

Finally we arrived, and were rushed outside. The Germans told us to leave our belongings, assuring us we could retrieve them later. We stood there for a few moments in confusion, awaiting instructions. Suddenly, my mother turned to me. 'The cookies! Let me at least go and get the cookies that I baked for you. Wait here, I am going to get them. I'll be right back.'

She hurried off. We did not embrace or say good-bye, for she was coming right back.

'Forward!' screamed the German soldier. "Why are you all waiting? March!'

Perhaps she returned, but I was no longer there, having been moved along with the group of young people. That night, separated from her, I cried for her … and for my cookies. All too soon, I realized that my dear mother was gone. I would never see her again. My grief for my mother was too deep to cry out for, but as days turned into weeks, and food was disgusting and sparse, I continued to moan for my cookies.

Perhaps she returned, but I was no longer thereFinally another girl kindly said to me, 'Don't cry about your cookies. Even if you had gotten them, how long could they have lasted you? A few days? A week? A month? All that time has passed already; had you gotten your cookies, they would have been long gone. Forget about them.'

I realized she was right, but continued to think about them. It was only after the war was over, as I relived my memories that it dawned on me. Those cookies had saved my life! Had my mother not disappeared, I would have clung to her and joined her in death in the crematorium. G‑d had other plans for me, and took her away at that crucial point, preventing me from rushing to my death. My mother wished to nourish me with those cookies…and she did.

This story is written in the voice of the author's mother