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  • Writer's picturePauline Kok


It is not easy to open a door, which has been closed for many, many years. I will have to find the courage to do this and although I still have a week before I will look what is behind that door, it keeps me awake. Friends who have read my book: ‘The Remains of War’ will know Emma-M, my youngest sister. At that time so long ago, she was too young to even go to school. She was such a trooper during the difficult years in the concentrations camps from W.W. II. She never complained, she seldom cried and had a way of looking at things with such a wise acceptance. On Monday I will be leaving for a week to fulfill a promise I made to her 12 years ago. I will travel to the country she never left during her entire life, except for a vacation sometimes.

Emma-M is ill. I have promised to say good-bye.

She is so close to death that I can’t risk waiting longer. If she would die suddenly without my saying good-bye to her, I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life. I am asking myself why she, seven years younger than I, should not be stronger and live longer. She is not happy, she often made the wrong choices in her life and will stubbornly push on, without complaining.

Her marriage was not a happy one-she was abused often by her husband. She has one son, who is a young man now and visits her as often as he can. He is the apple of her eye.

I am going to see her soon and am afraid of it. She is taller than I am, but weighs only 82 lbs. Her diet is mostly liquid. I am preparing myself for this visit and know that she will be immensely happy for my arrival. We will hug and cry and talk and remember the good things, laugh about the funny things and remember only the things we want to remember. And at the end of my visit, when I fly back to the country I now call my own, I will have done what I promised. I will have found Emma-M back in the old woman she is now. She has seen me again and as she has always done, she has told me stories, which are just not completely true, but because she is Emma-M, I know that this has made her happy. She still is stubborn, she still will make up stories, she still will take care of her adult son-she has always done that in her own way. And I go home with in my heart and memory little Emma-M, the way she remained for me. There is still time to live, not much perhaps. But enough to show and say: Farewell Emma-M. I love you.

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