The brown oversized cushions of our L-shaped sofa support my aching lower back. The warm fall sun shines brightly through the east window, a slight breeze blowing the curtain playfully into the side of my head, grazing my temple every few seconds. Squirming to find the perfect position, legs curled up under me, I look down to the daunting mini-legal notepad —lined and boldly yellow— gripped tightly in my hand. “Baby Names” titles the top of this otherwise barren page. Carefully drawing a line under the two words, the black-inked boundary is set. The list can ensue. Drawing my eyes away from the page, I see Jason enter the living room with two cups: a mug of coffee for him, a glass of ice water with lime for me.
“Are you ready to start coming up with baby names?” The spark of excitement in my tone overshadows the apprehension I am feeling. The struggle of picking suitable names is a longstanding one, dating back to my days of parenting stuffed animals. Yet, I know this will be a fun diversion from all the aches, pains, and nausea. With the quiet pause lingering, a tangible peacefulness settles. My question requires no verbal response from Jason as he presents with a wide smile, brightly lit eyes, and a peppy step that say more than his vocal cords ever could.
“Do you think we should choose a name for baby?” Jason’s voice jolts me from my distant presence. Feeling the cotton-covered firm mattress under my nagging, contraction-filled back, the warm sun rays fizzle, the mild breeze vanishes. Watching the individual snow flurries flitter in the frigid December wind, I pull my eyes from the bleak, gray sky. Jason’s sincere face deliberately studies mine. He has been thinking about this for a while now, and has just now worked up the nerve to utter the words. Inhaling sharply, this question forces my heartbeat to bang on my eardrums.
Can we still give her a name?
Trudging through my staggering pain, images of her impending death and horrifically formed abnormalities selfishly slide through the wormhole into my mind. Knowing her demise is imminent, getting through this birth has been the priority. Naming a baby is a task left to happy parents-to-be. A task starting with a long list, whittled down to a short list of favorites. A task burdened by everyone else’s opinion. But now, Jason’s contemplative suggestion feels like a twinge of the sunshine that had slipped away.
My voice climbs to a hushed, indulgent excitement. “Do you think we should? I didn’t even think we had the right to do that anymore.”
“Yes, Babe. We should.”
We get to pick a name! We are parents after all! With fervor, I welcome this distraction from my preoccupying, throbbing torment. My formerly slouched back straightens as I sit closer to the edge of the bed. Turning to fully face Jason, this unforeseen flare of energy flows through my body, sending a spirited zing to my twiddling thumbs and fidgeting toes. The edges of my white teeth peek through the tight grin forcing it’s way onto my face.
“Do you have any names you like?” asks Jason.
The carefully crafted moniker menu created on that balmy, indian summer day safely concealed my front-runners. What was once just the beginning of our journey is now the end. Choosing a name is all we can do for her now. My smile widens, now all my teeth exposed. I recount my favorite names, tapping a finger as I carefully pronounce each, “I really liked the names Sophia, Olivia, and Grace. How do you feel about those?” Holding my breath, and my fingers in their post-tap positions, I try and read Jason’s expression. Previously, I had worried about using names that were too popular. The absolute freedom from this limitation is overwhelming. It doesn’t matter if every other child is named the same as ours. This name will be just for us.
“I like those, too. I think any of those would be nice for her.” Shrugging he adds thoughtfully, yet oddly nonchalantly, “We could also use one for a middle name.”
A middle name!
“I like Sophia the best. I also think Grace is nice.”
“We could name her Sophia Grace.” Jason’s smile reflects my own as he speaks her newly appointed delicate and lovely name. Amongst a thousand impossible decisions, naming our baby was simple. Perhaps this name meaning “wisdom” came to us so easily, as it is extraordinarily befitting of our little girl. When we can’t bear to let her go, she is gracefully letting us go.
3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?”
I read and I weep. Our first son died in delivery. His name is Peter Edward, after Doreen’s grandparents on her mother’s side, I think. John Douglas came next and he just turned 29. I didn’t give names to the next two, who didn’t survive pregnancy, until many years later. After the divorce in fact. Doreen never wanted to discuss those children. One is James Lloyd. My father’s middle name is LLoyd. Peter, James, and John were the three Apostles who were always with Christ, as in the Transfiguration and other events. The next one would be Elizabeth Marie. When Mary was born we waffled between Mary Elizabeth and Mary Katherine, settling on Mary Katherine. As for Elizabeth Marie, well my mother-in-law, who loved me, her middle name was Marie. Elizabeth was the cousin of the Virgin Mary, and she was the mother of John the Baptist. Now when I meet Elizabeths or James’ I say, “If I had had one more child their name would have been…”:
The first three names, Peter, John and Mary are very Catholic, so there is no problem in keeping that up with the others. I take great comfort in knowing they have names.While this doesn’t bring closure it does feel more complete.
Thanks for sharing, Doug. I agree, giving our baby a name was one of the few positive things we could do for her. Thanks for continuing to read!
Thanks for writing. Sometimes the reading is hard. You see, I weep, for your losses, for my losses. One of the promises of Heaven is that all our tears will be wiped away.*
I have read that tears from onions are fairly innocuous, but tears from deep emotional reasons are loaded with toxins. We are better off with the toxins being gone. Cathartic is the word for that. Thanks again.
Currently I am reading the book “The Healing of Families”. The author posits that families have wounds which need healing and family members can never be healed unless their family is healed. One wound he lists is not properly mourning the death of a loved one.
* I can not wear contacts because my eyes are too dry. Besides contacts just float out when deluged with tears.