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– Prologue –

younger (if for less desperate reasons now), and as I’ve been wondering in what form to write to the dead, the first word I chose to look up was ‘translate’. I was surprised to find, as its first definition: ‘To bear, convey, or remove from one person, place or condition to another; to transfer, transport . . . to remove the dead body or remains of a saint, or, by extension, a hero or great man, from one place to another.’ Although I’m not sure I would recognize a saint if I met one (I’ve met a few whom I consider heroes), and though I have been far too desultory in my learning of languages, in what I have been gathering here, it seems I too have been translating.

Once, around the time when Miep and Jan and I were at work on what became our book, I asked Jan, who was almost ninety years old at the time, to comment on an event in the news. Jan shrugged and made a sweeping gesture with his arm that encompassed his living room and his then eighty-year-old wife Miep who was seated on the couch. ‘This is my world,’ he told me. ‘That other is not my world any more.’

Though I’m much younger than he was at the time, what he meant is beginning to dawn on me.


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