Everything was mixed up in my small child – her attitude to herself, her lack of trust in herself, her lack of trust in me. Now, three months later, I measure where we are. Dora thinks that she is a bad girl less and less, less and less that she is stupid, ugly, disobedient. Many things have come out of her, many things are yet to come out. Six months without me, in a house where nobody had really loved her, except, normally, Nina, and they could only do this when they would be alone and felt miserable, they would get close to each other and cry. Dora was tortured by everybody as they wanted, the children in her school did not like her, and her teacher would regularly yell at her: “What does your mother think? Will she finally hand over the documents?” For six months everything that used to be her world was systematically questioned, for six months she lived in a lie, in stress, in the pathology behind the closed civil doors of the nice people, all of this left traces. But my Dora was made of firm, good material. Her love for truth and love for justice, not mater how shattered for her to survive, have not been demolished and she has become more and more herself and it was not only her trust in herself or in me that was restored, but also her trust in justice, in truth, no matter how pathetic it might sound. It is really hard with her, she is simply a complicated kid, but once back in her world, her child’s world, it is much easier. We spent our summer in Amsterdam – we went somewhere every day, to the park, to the Zandvoort sea, to the pool, to the movies, to the Royal Museum which Dora loved more than everything and where she was never bored. And that is how we slowly approached 20 September and the first school day.
When I arrived at Schiphol with Dora, where our friends had waited for us, all happy and smiling, when I passed through that glass door, hand in hand with Dora, I started to cry out loud, at that moment, not before, I felt an emptiness in my left hand that did not hold Nina’s. I am still made of glass, wounded, exhausted, tired to my bone. I don’t feel like writing about myself. I sleep when I can, I have no insomnia problem, I feel that I could sleep for a year without waking up, I am so tired. I wait to bring Nina back. The psychologist told me that I had to wait for her to call me and ask me to come for her, that she was older and that she was capable of making that decision now that she was twelve. That I could not take her now as her father had taken her away, without me knowing and wanting, unless I wanted to repeat his crime. I am waiting, and I keep quiet about this waiting, I don’t tell anybody about this waiting. If I live to see this, yes, there is strength inside me, I will survive everything.
Amsterdam, August 1996