As parents, we think about it quite seriously. We have nine months to prepare. Some are ready rather quickly, and some…well, nine months isn’t long enough. One of the first questions new parents are often asked is, “What did you name your baby?” I’ve yet to hear a parent share their child’s name who isn’t proud.
The night Preslee was born, I waddled into the hospital calling her Adalynn, (I can’t even remember how we were going to spell it) And Pat was calling her Preslee. Hours later she was born, and my placenta didn’t detach well. The Doctor worked for quite awhile and later explained I had lost a lot of blood, which explained why I felt so sick and exhausted. I was told to sleep to get my strength back for the morning. I had delivered in the middle of the night and as hard as I tried to stay awake to swoon over my newborn, I couldn’t. I remember waking up, noticing it was still dark outside and spotted Pat in the corner of the room with a little light on. He stayed up all night long, feeding and holding our daughter. As I watched my 24 year old husband live out a different role, I was smitten. I remember feeling my heart might literally burst from happiness, and at that moment I knew her name was Preslee.
As parents we say our kids name over and over again. We say their name when we are proud, upset, and everywhere in-between. If you are a blessed to be a parent, think about how many times you’ve heard your child’s name today, whether it be by your own voice or someone else, the number might surprise you.
I had never thought this much about a name until my daughter was gone. I found I drastically missed saying the word…Preslee. I missed saying it during the day, in the middle of night, in the car, during dinner time, and even occasionally yelling it when I was upset. And then I noticed I missed hearing it even more. People stopped saying it to me. I remember weeks after her death I went to lunch with friends, and every time I said her name my friends looked down at their food and ate in silence. It was awkward, and I was heartbroken. By the end of lunch I quit talking. My friends chatted away about their own children, while I sat in silence. I left devastated, wondering if anyone would ever be comfortable listening to me talk about my daughter again.
Not long ago, I was introduced to my friend’s neighbor, and she exclaimed, “Oh, you’re Preslee’s mom!” I didn’t expect her to know me, and her comment surprised me. My heart suddenly began to swell, and I threw my arms around her. I couldn’t help but grin, because yes, I am Preslee’s mom! Though I was a little taken back, and said very little due to surprised emotions, I was surprised how much her comment meant to me. On the way home I realized how much I’ve missed hearing Preslee’s name.
To those who have ever wondered how to interact with those who have lost a child, all you need to do is say their child’s name.
It’s that simple.
Let the parents know when you think of their child. Tell them when something reminds you of their child. Share with them if their child has influenced you in anyway. I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t appreciate hearing their child’s name (here or in heaven). And if the parents become emotional hearing their child’s name, that’s okay.
My guess is it’s just been awhile since they’ve heard anyone say it.
When we named our tiny little newborn, we never dreamed we’d only have 18 months with her. And I definitely never imagined hearing her name would become a gift I yearn for.
But it truly is one of the sweetest gifts I can receive.
I can’t thank those of you, who say it, nearly enough.