I Lost a Daughter. She Lost Her Third Mom.

On Mother’s Day, I think of Katy, who I loved as my own. I lost her when I lost him.

Dana DuBois
Human Parts

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The back of three little girls’ heads.
My three little girls. Photo by author.

It’s nearly midnight, it’s 2014, and I’m in bed with the man I left my marriage for over two years ago. We’ve just split for the second and final time a few weeks before, and yet here I am.

He strokes my shoulder and kisses my head while his daughter Katy* sleeps in the room next door, unaware of my presence.

It’s probably for the best.

She’s only five, and for half her young life, I’ve been her acting mother. I’m the only one she can remember, and now I’m the third one she’s lost.

But it wasn’t an act. She felt like mine.

A lost lover leaves a bruise. But losing a child — one so in need of a mom, one who loved me and my daughters — is a singular pain, an ache I rarely acknowledge lest it take me down a mournful path of motherhood not taken.

I haven’t revisited this part of my life in years, not even in photographs. I gaze at them now and observe how the images of my three wee girls have faded. As I look at the faces of my two daughters, I can see how they’ve evolved into their teenage selves. I look at Katy and see a question mark, a child frozen in time.

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Dana DuBois
Human Parts

Publisher for Pink Hair & Pronouns and Three Imaginary Girls. Boost nominator. I'm a GenX word nerd living in the PNW with a whole lot of little words to share.