the power of a single image.
As I excitedly made my way through the gallery of photos from our newborn session with Eline, this one stopped me in my tracks. With tears welling in my eyes, it held my gaze and I couldn’t look away.
** Trigger Warning: I write about mothers, motherless mothering, loss and grief **
The ring I wear once belonged to my Mum. I took it from her jewellry box in October of 1997, and couldn’t bring myself to put it back. My heart was broken, shattered into a million pieces. Just four months earlier, my Mum was tragically taken from our lives and we didn’t know how to live without her. Wearing her ring somehow made her feel closer.
In March of 2011, I took this ring off, as well as another of her rings that I had been gifted for my 18th birthday. Though it wasn’t on my mind at the time, the day I took them off happened to be Mother’s Day in the UK. Was it just a coincidence, or something more? My path through grief has been long and hard. Had I finally come to accept that she was gone? I felt ready to be strong, to turn the page. A new chapter was about to start, I felt it.
And so it did.
Some months later, I found out I was pregnant with Rebekka.
I became a Mother.
Then, when Rebekka was five months old, I lost my Maternal Grandmother to cancer.
I walked my usual route through the dunes. Distracted and with my head in the clouds, babywearing Rebekka in the Ergobaby carrier, feeling numb as I processed the news. I was so grateful we had visited my Grandma just the week before; and grateful that we’d been in the UK to make that visit possible.
One of my Mum’s rings found it’s way back onto my finger. Like the first time, it was the only one that fit. I don’t remember exactly when, but I remember the moment. I took it from it’s safe place and looked at it, studying it’s fine details as if for the first time. Searching for answers to unspoken questions. Through tears I put it on and couldn’t take it off, just like the very first time I had placed it on my finger. My heart ached in a way perhaps only a Motherless Mother can understand. I wanted and needed that feeling of closeness to return.
My pregnancy with Lea was a very emotional one, especially in the beginning. When I was pregnant with Rebekka, I had phoned my Grandma at moments when a daughter would phone her mother. I couldn’t do that this time around. Instead, I would gaze down at my ring, engulfed in my longing for them both.
So when I came across this image, my heavy heart beat loudly in my chest, my breath caught in my throat, and tears of love escaped my eyes. In that moment I knew, the people I love and miss are close, and my memories of them warm my heart.
Thank you, Eline, for this photo.
The Hague, The Netherlands
A unique blend of documentary family photography and guided lifestyle family photography for sentimental families.