It’s a common practice to name a baby after a member of the family. In Judaism (at least in my practice of it), it is more appropriate to name a baby after someone who is no longer living, for fear that naming the child after a living relative will confuse the angel of death - or something along those lines. (Not that my parents bought into that superstition. I was named after my father’s parents who were very much alive - and in attendance - at the time of my birth.) In any case, I like the idea that the name is a connection to the past.
All that is background for saying that when I dream about baby names, I tend to start with family names. When my grandfather died a couple of years ago, I pondered how to use his name for one of my future children. His name is somewhat dated, and I thought that really what I’d like to do is modify it to be used as a girl’s name. It was the perfect middle name to the first name I wanted to use - a blending of names from both sides of the family. The first name comes from J’s grandmother, and a close cousin, both on his mom’s side of the family. But, they were both living, and if we’re following the notion that we shouldn’t name after the living, then that name was off the table.
At the time, we weren’t actively trying to conceive, so it was clear that even in the best scenario this was planning for the future. When we actively started trying to get pregnant, I kept my list of baby names private. I’d toy around with them from time to time - to give me hope for the future or something to focus on besides tests and medications. But mostly the names would sit, gathering dust in the back of my mind. Friends would have babies, and I’d think, “please don’t let them take my names” - and so far it’s worked.
This week, I pulled out my list of names again. At the top of the list is this name - the blending of J’s grandmother and my grandfather. And as of this week, I can use it. J’s grandmother (Nana) died. Nana had been ill for many years and for the entire time I’ve been a part of this family, was in another place mentally. And so I never really knew her. J mourns the loss of his grandmother, though she’d been mostly gone for a long time. I am saddened that I never got to know Nana as she was. My MIL spent the evening writing her mother’s eulogy and reminiscing about summer trips, volunteer work, jokes... and I’m sad I never really got to know this woman who led such an interesting life.
And, in the back of my mind, is another thought. Maybe now that her name is available, the child will come to be. Maybe it was too soon before, and now that both of our grandparents have released their hold on these names the cosmic-powers-that-be/god/the-great-spirit-in-the-sky/my-ovaries/his-sperm will somehow get it together to produce this child. Her name is ready and waiting for her.