"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..."
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, (II, ii, 1-2)
It struck me today that Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander will live on, not just in Bobby and Maya or in Peter and I, but also in name. Each of them has a cousin, of their generation, who will carry on their name in one way or the other. My nephew's middle name is Nicholas; one of my new nieces is Sophia; and one of Peter's cousins gave birth to a little boy in December whose middle name is Alexander. While I dont necessarily think that the names were given in memory of our children, it's heartening to know that those children who would have been less than 2 years apart from our three little saints, will bear those names and, perhaps one day, pass them on to their children or grandchildren, keeping them alive for generations to come.
It's hard because, so often, whenever I've seen or heard another child named Nicholas, Sophia, or Alexander, it's been painful. I should have expected it; with the exception of Gaea, their first and middle names (Peter and Nathaniel are the other names of the boys), their names are fairly common, or, at the very least, not uncommon. It isnt surprising that other children will share those names. Hearing them in supermarkets or department stores or, when I was working, during storytimes or when children checked out books, was a stab in my heart. Even the other day, when I took Bobby and Maya to the playground, I heard a woman calling her toddler to her and, as I heard her yell "Nicholas", my heart jumped up in my throat.
I asked my MIL the other day if it was hard to see Bobby sometimes, as he shares the nickname of her baby brother who passed away in the early 50s at the age of 4 and the name of her son, who died at the age of 7 and who, in so many ways, resembles not only Peter but Robert as well. She told me that no, it wasnt hard, because it was a way that they lived on. Bobby, of course, shares a genetic relationship with them, but that it was more than that. That it was an intangible piece of them that would continue. I somehow think that even had we adopted Bobby and that genetic link was missing, she would have felt the same way had we bestowed that name upon him. I thought of that today as I was pondering names.
It could always hurt, I suppose. I could always feel like we have some sort of ownership of their names... That, since they died, it's only fair that we keep something... That their names are ours... That other people shouldnt use them... But their names are beautiful. They are sacred and perfect, just like they were... Just like they are. How beautiful that other children hold those names and all the wonder that they possess... That, perhaps one day, they will look at their family tree and see that they had cousins who also had those names... That those cousins watch over them with an extra special love because they share that bond.
That they hold a special place in our heart too...
Another interesting note... Had Nick and Sophie been girls, their names would have been Gaea Sophia and Brigid Grace, so, lest my other niece feel left out, she has a soft spot in our hearts too :)
Well, I'd best get myself to bed... We are having a surprise birthday party here tomorrow and I still have some straightening up to do before I can pour myself into bed.