I get to use your name.
No, not in the way I'd hoped.
After the dust began to settle and I began to scale the magnitude of grief, realizing just how permanent death really, really is...
I began to note the aftermath and the collateral damage that was a direct result of losing you.
Losses that paled in comparison to losing you, but losses nonetheless.
I lost the opportunity to finish your bohemian baby room, with avocado green walls and fuchsia and teal accents. It would have been epic. So me, so you, so us.
I lost getting to know my first daughter’s cry.
I lost the opportunity to have normal new mother conversation with, at the time, my twenty-something friends, who all seemed to be knocked up alongside me.
I lost friends.
I lost my voice.
I lost my will.
I lost my fight.
For a brief moment, I thought I might lose my marriage.
One day, as I looked at your headstone, I stared at the name we had talked about naming you, our first girl, for years and realized I’d lost that too.
I lost the chance to call you by your name when it was snack-time and you were playing “Moana” in the backyard with your siblings.
I lost the chance to introduce you, Jenna Belle, as one of our children, to Daddy’s co-workers at the ball field.
I lost the chance to hear your name called out at Kindergarten graduation.
I lost the chance to hear your friends squeal your name at church and Sunday School.
Like any normal parent, we poured love and meaning into your name.
And while I did lose all the normal ways to use your name, and all the ways I’d anticipated using it, I still get to use your name.
Yes, your name makes lots of people uncomfortable. For a lot of different reasons. But your name isn’t for them.
Your story matters too much to force it on people who can’t, won’t or just don’t. For whatever reason.
I get to use your name. When I share your life with people who will listen. When I applied to graduate school. When I tell people what kind of work I do. When my youngest daughter announces to our present company that all the pink and purple flowered trees are for you, her big sister. When I make parenting decisions that I know are because of all we’ve done and haven’t done with you. When I realize that I am making too big a deal of something that doesn’t matter. When I am afraid of pain and remember how brave you were.
Your name is the undercurrent to any ounce of courage I have.
I get to use your name, with the people who will listen. I hope they believe me when I say it is enormous gift it to use your name.