There are three of me.
There is the before, the in utero, the swimmer trying to escape a reality that is untenable.
There is the in-between, the foster child, the little girl named Bobbi whose foster mother wrote down feeding schedules and diaper details and who didn't dare attach to a baby who would move on.
There is the after, the child who came from nowhere, from nothing, without lineage. Outside of time and space, I emerged from a black hole, a rip in the fabric of yesterday, without a name or a past. Loved selflessly and nurtured into adulthood by a family though not of flesh and blood, but intertwined by the heartstrings of love and need.
Today I claim the in-between. I pull her into myself and gaze on her infant face. She is me. I am her. She has languished, apart from me, and I need only own her, accept her, take her in to myself, to nurture her back to the whole.
The other, I am not yet ready to embrace. The one who was an unhappy surprise. The one who swam nine months, nearly ten, in a toxic soup, a place where she was not welcome. Who drank what she drank, ate what she ate, heard what she said. Who emerged, finally, not into the loving embrace of a mother but into the competent and dispassionate arms of a nurse. Who disappeared, climbed into a cocoon and emerged as someone completely different - a child bereft of family, of lineage, of kith and kin. A child rescued, to be sure, but yet an orphan. Abandoned, then saved. Lost, then found. Loved, finally, but only after being cut loose from blood ties and family lines.
I'm not ready to reach her yet.
Maybe not ever.