With my forehead pressed against the window, I focus on the moving blur of green, feeling a heavy sadness. I am on the train, leaving Tallinn, without meeting Silvia’s sister. Her granddaughter had told me it was all too painful to revisit.

Of course, I am disappointed that I couldn’t meet her and sad to have brought up painful memories for a woman whose granddaughter reveres her as the “strongest and bravest lady” she has ever known. With my head on the window, I ponder what I have learned of her story from her granddaughter and know Silvia’s sister deserves that reverence.

On reaching Tartu, I seek out the Emajõgi, the “mother river,” walking along its reedy banks in the cool light rain, thinking of the story that has brought me to this place, of the many stories in one.  A river that separated two sisters in a time of war.

The birds sing their evening song. The meadowsweet lightens the air. All I can do is follow the river.

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