Renate 1957

Hanover (Germany)
Hanover (Germany)
Art Historian

DECEMBER 1985: I am called to the museum’s reception – a package has been delivered for me. I am currently going through a difficult time as I have just separated from my husband. The package is from my parents, it’s a St. Nicholas present for a grown woman and contains a home-baked cake. I am very moved, have to laugh and think: that’s the sort of thing only parents do.

APRIL 1986: My niece is born on the same day as my aunt who went missing during the war. My brother takes his daughter of a few hours and lays her on a pillow next to our dying grandmother. She turns her head with great effort and kisses the child on the cheek and whispers: "I had a daughter once too."

SEPTEMBER 1994: "I’m glad to be able to go back to my wife." So ends the letter from the man who moved his suitcase into my flat the day before. He steals out of my life again like a thief in the night.

JUNE 1996: As I walk past, I hear: "I’m sorry, we’re sold out." I have a spare complimentary ticket, turn round and offer it to the gentleman.

JANUARY 2001: My husband's youngest daughter, who lives with us, only thanks her father for our birthday present. She doesn't look at me.

AUGUST 2002: I hear the squeal of brakes and an alarm signal. My car is turning. I see a pavement full of people, a concrete pillar and think: "That’s the last thing you’re ever going to see." My car comes to a stop. The tram that hit my car dented the passenger door in so far, that the metal frame was about to drill into my elbow. One small scratch, that’s all. The car is a heap of scrap metal.

OCTOBER 2003: I discover that my grandparents claimed that their under-age daughter's child was their own. My uncle is actually my cousin. He himself found out inadvertently as an adult. Now it finally becomes clear to me why he broke off contact with our family.

JULY 2004: At night I sit on the edge of the bed wrapped up in a woollen blanket together with my mother with the door to the terrace wide open. She leans her head on my shoulder and we are one. Now. Because we both know she is dying.

JULY 2004: I accidentally hear my sister ask our aunt into another room for a conversation. We have agreed that to thank her for her help in looking after our dying mother we sisters will give her a piece of jewellery. I stand up and join them and my sister looks at me full of hatred.

JULY 2008: I arrive at the hospital after a journey of several hours to learn that my half-brother has died in the night. My sister, who knew that I absolutely wanted to see him again, did not call me in time. I feel another door closing inside me.