Imagine if you will, you are four years old, huddled in the filth of decaying fruit stowed away on a truck headed away from the pain and destitute of 1940 Belgium.
My parents and I are escaping. We cannot afford our home, to live or to die. We should be sad, we cry together.
I remember my mother, covering my nose from the stench, holding me close, crying. Crying more than anything she is sorry, my father tells us to jump as the truck stops, the driver would not understand if we must explain our presence. We should take fruit but my father is too proud and we end up alone on a steep snowing bank, in every direction there is more snow. We are cold, my mother holds me in her arms, her tears freezing to her cheeks her fingers turning blue from walking with me.
We must make our own way across Belgium and into France where a woman has told my father she can help. I do not know how long it will take, but I know there will be soup and hot water, a bed to rest and father says feathers fill the blankets in France. My mother repeats “ Not much further” again I believe her and still we are walking, a warm tear falls on my shoulder, so hot it seems to burn my skin, and we walk. At night it is so cold we must sleep in a barn on horse manure to keep warm. My mother holds me under her coat to keep the filth off my cloths, she is warm as I fall to sleep, she holds me so close I can feel her heart beating against my back. In the morning I wake still clasped in my mothers arms, I can not feel her heart. My father tells me we must hurry; he tearfully removes me from her grasp and covers her body with his long black coat. “Let her rest she is very tired, we must hurry before the sun”