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Anne and Her Shadows

I have kept her photograph, which I purchased twenty-five years ago on my first trip to the Anne Frank House. I embarked on the narrow climb to the hiding place and later, the descent, and imagined all that had occurred in between.  I was attuned to the voices of visitors speaking other languages as I looked out a window and considered the view and the sounds of Amsterdam’s streets and wondered if this is what Anne saw and heard.  At that point, I withheld no emotion and unabashedly cried in front of everyone else in that room.

Only recently have I begun to comprehend the extent of her profound influence on my writing and working life which began with a spring play.  As a fourteen-year-old, I auditioned for and won the role of Anne in my high school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  At that time, I had already read the Diary and attempted to watch a television dramatization, but couldn’t do so in one sitting as I darted in and out of the living room because of a seven-year-old’s fear.  I didn’t know if what I was watching, a family living in hiding, was still happening. I wondered: “If the Frank family is in hiding, shouldn’t I be as well?”

Although the scenes appeared as mere shadows and whispers, I couldn’t make them disappear.  With age came a clearer sense of past and present.  Being on stage playing Anne protected me from those fears. I was engulfed in performing well without a single dropped line or missed cue. But as the fear abated, something else quietly manifested, an inner sense of responsibility.