The Girl with No Name

By Emma Pearson

May 25, 2024

11 September 2019

“I don’t have a name. I don’t know what to do. I am not the person I used to be…” (part of a prompt from Megan Devine’s Writing Your Grief course)

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Treanor (

Actually, I do have a name, and it’s Emma. It’s the same name that I have always had. A label, a badge, whose consistency and durability belies all of the changes my heart, body, skin, eyes, breath and soul have endured as a consequence of my recent years.

Outwardly, in many ways, I am the same. Except that I am not. Not the same. Neither inside nor outside.

I am still Emma, and yet I am not the Emma I used to be. Of course I am not the Emma I used to be! How could I be?

One dear friend said to me recently, and this was even before Julia’s death, when “all” I had had to contend with were the deaths of my three best men – best friend, dear brother, and sweet husband…

“Of course you are not the same Emma. How could you possibly be?”

But whereas this friend’s acknowledgement of me being a different version of the Emma she’d known for decades felt like soothing acceptance, it’s unusual for the different Emma to be so readily accepted.

Most friends agree that I have changed. They like to tell me so. But I sense disappointment, criticism, frustration in their assessment. They sometimes add that I am “angry”. “Sad”. That I am “sharp”. “Edgy”. “Confrontational”.

There is less acceptance when it comes to these words being used as defining adjectives. They are not exactly saying, “Wow! Cool! You have become so edgy/confrontational/sharp. Love it! Keep at it, chica!”  

No – there’s not a lot of love for someone like that.

I am edgy. Literally edgy. I live on the edge of safety. I live on the edge of society. I live on the edge of life. My life is on the edge. My day-to-day living teeters and totters on the brink of an invisible tightrope. On one side is society with its acknowledged ways of being and behaving. And on the other is messy morass of slippy sloppiness into a dubious, not altogether acceptable way of being.

So this prompt, with its hinting at lost relationships makes me query, “Do I need to repair myself?”

I just don’t know anymore. Repair suggests that something is broken. I don’t feel broken. Shattered, yes. Fragile, yes. Bashed and bruised, yes. But not broken.

Heal is a gentler word, but that also suggests there’s something damaged, missing, weak, flaky, not quite enough.

But I think I am enough. Dammit.

Yes, I am angry and sad. And cross and sharp and confrontational. And protective of my well-being.

Yes, I set hard and tough boundaries with people. I tell them off when they are not being helpful to me and my fragile state of being.

Before I begin to heal myself, whether from the outside in or from the inside out, I need to smother my shattered, bashed and bruised fragility with a rich loving balm. And if I have learned anything these past years, I know what enriches that balm and what erodes it.

Generating healing balm is the core focus of my life.

Today is four years since my one and only bestest platonic male friend Don died – 11 September 2015.
Today is also 18 years since thousands died in 9/11.
And, for me, today is a day to carry on carrying on.

About Emma Pearson

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