There’s a little Holocaust memorial in the park near our house. It’s basically a large piece of pink marble with a nice bronze plaque that simply says “Remember”. I walk past it often, whether it be to take my son to the playground or on one of my morning walks. Many have showered the ground with rocks at the base of the memorial stone, and I’ve seen little notes and prayers wrapped around some of the larger offerings. I always find a pebble to leave, which wasn’t as easy in winter; the ground was frozen and didn’t want to give up even the tiniest sliver of quartz or slate. Sometimes what I gave was little more than a hard clump of frozen red clay. I didn’t feel right not leaving anything at all.
Today, across the sidewalk from the memorial, I spotted a perfectly formed dainty pink ballerina magnolia petal, just lying on the grass. The ballerina magnolias lost their petals a few weeks ago; they fell like snow to make room for glossy green leaves. Spring is receding with its show-off blooms. What’s moving swiftly into her place is Honeysuckle perfume, crackling heat, and pop-up thunderstorms. The petal reminded me of what we just lost, how we mourn for spring once it’s gone. I decided that instead of my usual stone to leave at the base of the memorial, I’d place the petal. It was too pretty to leave on the bare ground to be trampled. After resting it between two large pieces of white quartz, tucking its edges in a bit to protect it from the wind and rain that’s been hanging around the valley these past few days, I whispered a little prayer for Anne Frank, since she’s been on my mind so much these past few days. Snippets of passages from her diary, parts that I remember reading in school floating to the surface of my conscience from their quiet resting places. I’ve been thinking about her charm, her wit, her amazing gift her spirit left the rest of us. How beautiful her writing is, right to the core of it. It’s honest and it’s confident and it’s beautiful. I’ve been feeling like I can’t squander what I’ve been given: Life. An ability to write. To fall in love and raise a child. To walk around, fearlessly, in freedom and fresh air. Because she couldn’t continue with her dreams, with her life, I will continue with mine. She’s in the soul of every young girl who ever cracked open a diary and poured their heart out onto its pages. She whispers encouragement to all writers, begging them to tell the stories that pound deep within their chests. To tell the ones that hurt and the ones that tug and the ones that make laughter rise from the ashes. We’ve got to tell everything. And we’ve got to do it with abandon, reaching in deep and leaving nothing out. For her. We’ve got to do it for her.
After picking my son up from school, which is a short walk down the greenbelt from the memorial, I decided we should pop into the bookstore. I needed to pick up the 2011 Writer’s Almanac, and he always enjoys playing with the trains and reading books on the story time stage. As we were leaving to check out, my eyes fell on table that said “Summer Reads”, which was laden with paperback classics and recent bestsellers. Thumbing through the titles, I had another book in my hand to buy when I saw Anne’s little face, peeking out and smiling from beneath a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. It was the only copy on the table. I put back the book I had picked out and bought the diary instead.