She Is There

‘With a smile and a tear. She is there.’ My Love sent me these words in a forwarded email he received from the municipality. Our daughter is now registered in the Personal Records Database. Our fifth child is recognized as an existing person. She is just as dead as before, but she is still our child, and now that has been made official. She is a daughter and a sister.

Recognition. How important that is. I don’t know exactly why, except that it is important and ensures that there is room for emotions other than sadness. And in this case, recognition is nice because it is just painful if one of your children is not mentioned when they somewhere explicitly list who our children are.

Do my children determine my identity? No, I don’t think that’s the case anymore. But they are a part of who I am. The pain of losing Amanda has made that clear to me. That pain rgoes much deeper than I thought possible and is regularly physically present.

When we sit down for a meal and I check if everyone is there I still often feel a sudden panic flaring up: Something is wrong. I calm myself down, count again and realize that I have included her again. I am so surprised by that. My body knows better who belongs to me than my mind.

So she belongs to us, is a part of me. She is my daughter and now that’s finally officially registered. What a wonderful and sad feeling that gives.

With a smile and a tear. She’s there.

First published in Dutch on July 31, 3019

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