I (don’t) have a name

Drawing by Käthe Kollwitz

I don’t have a name.
I don’t know what to do.
I am not the person I used to be.


Pictures of me smiling, bathing in light, pregnant belly, radiant.
Christmas pictures. Us two. No, us three. In love. Walking in nature.
Could two people ever be this happy? Ridiculously happy.
Happy and contented in the sun.
An apparent Sunday’s child. Two Sunday’s children.
But I wasn’t born on a Sunday. (It was a Tuesday.)

I go further back in time. Before I knew you, my love. You, my loves. My Loves.

I look at pictures of myself in my twenties, then as a teenager.
With every image I think: “Who is she?” and “I don’t know her.”

I feel so alienated from my former self. She looks like me. She really does. And yet, she’s not me.

She didn’t know about You yet. She didn’t know.

Preschooler of four years. Little lion face. Smiling, exposing her baby teeth. Overexposed photos. Lots of sun. Visiting Papa in prison. To the circus. With Mama, Papa, aunt and niece at the fun-fair.

Little girl at the station, photo taken by Mama, waiting for the train home.
A little bit of loneliness. A glimmer of sadness.

Baby Jessie. A few months old. Mama’s wearing baby’s bib, smiling and cooing at her daughter in the cradle. Newly born. Mama tired but happy. Papa holding his daughter for the first time, looking with equal parts love and astonishment at the cute little alien in his arms.

I feel an identification with the parent. I feel an identification with the baby. I really do.

You, Jolien, were born while I slept.
I was dazed when I first met you.
Fell in love and was completely lost when you looked into my eyes.
The birth of a mom.
The death of a child.
Your death. You, Jolientje, died in our arms when you were only eight days old. I died with you.

I am no longer the person I used to be.
I do not know what to do.

I have a name.

My name is:
Mama.

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