Friday, October 31, 2008

Names and faces

Monkey has great many nicknames. One that is older than most, acquired in fact just about the day she came home from the hospital, is kitten. Trite, yes, but she looked it-- tiny, content, very snugly-- perfect (biased? who, me?). At the time, and for a while after, even though I freely used the salutation, I thought it was in all honesty a cheat. I mean, don't all babies fit the bill? Turns out, not exactly.

We tried out a few nicknames while still in NICU. Nothing in particular was sticking. For one thing, he did not look like a kitten. It's not that he was particularly big. He was smaller than Monkey was when she came home, but a kitten he was not. Small and cuddly-- check, snugly too. Just not a kitten. Not entirely un-catlike, you understand, but decidedly not a kitten. And then, a day or two after we came home, I picked him up just so, and his head went kinda like that, and we got it-- a small kitten of a very large cat. Lion Cub, or the Cub for short. And that is what we will call him around here too, from now on. But first, today, there are other names to name.

The Cub, he is 11 weeks old today, two and a half months. Which makes this post two months late, give or take (I know-- shoot me). His birth day, the 15th, is as far away on the calendar as a day can get from his brother's birth day, the 31st, without being closer again on the other side.


It's twenty one months today, a year and nine months. A year ago today the nine months thing was kicking my ass, and I was just relieved to survive Halloween at the same location I spent it a year prior, visibly pregnant and waddling. Ironically, stab for stab, today might have been harder-- the Cub, in his stroller, and then in the sling, underscoring that neither of them was here last year, and that one of them never will be. My dead son's would-be best friend calling JD by name today, for the first time ever, and to his mother's obvious surprise and delight, underscoring that we will never hear one of our children say anything for the first time.


I can't be any more clear in my own mind that my boys are different people, one not a consolation prize for the other. I am so clear on it in fact, that I needed to voice it for all to hear, lest anyone be tempted to say or imply otherwise. And yet to me they are undeniably connected, both in their similarities and their differences.

While the Cub was still in utero we knew he had his brother's nose. That kinda freaked me out because I didn't recognize that nose. Where did it come from, and why do both of them have it? After the Cub was born my mom mentioned, all matter-of-factly, that the nose was my paternal grandmother's. Smack forehead. Of course-- DUH!!!! How did I not see that? Weirder still was the relief I felt at that recognition-- the part, it turns out, was from the Standard Family Catalog of Parts. What does it matter, JD asked. They still have eight great-grandparents, the same exact gene pool, and this was still the same part for both of them, fished out, as it were, of that pool. I know, I know. And yet it seems less freaky now that it has a back reference than it did when I thought it a product of a random re-mix of the two families' genetic makeups.

The Cub looked a lot like A when he was first born. And now he doesn't, most of the time. I'll have you know that never take pictures of sleeping babies, didn't even in the time before thanks to an Old Country superstition, but I did take one of the Cub a few weeks ago. Because sleeping as he did just then, he looked so much like A.

He is very substantial, my younger son. There is substance to his whole being. Right down to the little fingers. Long, like his brother's, but... well, let's just say that to look at his hands, you'll never mistake him for a poor eater. He chows down on those fingers too, goes at them with gusto. I can't blame him-- they are positively delicious looking, and I wouldn't mind a nibble myself.


He grabs our fingers when we offer those to him. Most of the time I am right there in the moment, but every so often I am also back in that hospital room feeling my heart break because A's beautiful fingers won't ever grab anything. It sucks so much that I am the only one who knows, has a physical memory of, how strong he was, and how vital. The Cub holds his head pretty much without needing support, has for a while-- an impressive feat among the 0-3 months crowd. People tend to comment on that. Every once in a while I want to tell them that his brother was big and strong too. I never do.


They are separate people, without a doubt. But the fact is that you are here reading about the Cub because his brother died. Because his brother died, and I needed to write. I read blogs for years before then, but never needed one of my own, until. And for some reason that cries out to me for some kind of fairness-- fairness to them, to you, or to myself, I am not sure. For some reason it compels me to give voice to their proper names, just this once,* for some kind of record. So here they are, my boys.


A\/n.er G1de0n, A

and


L.i0r S0l0m0n, the Cub.


And finally this, the last bit of what I wrote the night before Cub's bris, a brief note that came surprisingly easy to the fingers, but much harder to the lips, when it was time for me to read it outloud:

We did not set out to find a name for this son that would connect with and honor the son who came before him. Naming our babies has traditionally been a difficult process for us, replete with complicated sets of requirements and aesthetic preferences. So when we discovered that both of us liked the name L.i0r, and that it fit our criteria, that alone was a reason for celebration. But the fact that this name shares a common theme with the name we gave our first son was more than a little significant to us.

Our two sons will never get to play together, or to cause trouble for each other or their big sister. They are, for us, connected by the family bond, and by their uncanny resemblance. And now they are also connected through their first names. A\/n.er means the father of light (or of the candle). L.i0r means my light.




P.S. Last Halloween was the day for the lovely C. Please stop by and remember with her as she marks her one year anniversary and Callum's first birthday.



*...even if I am still using funny characters to minimize the likelihood of being found via a search... I am not that brave.

41 comments:

N said...

Two beautiful sons they are.

CLC said...

Both of your sons are beautiful, and I see the uncanny resemblance, especially the nose! It causes me to choke up thinking of their connection. I think of alot about the baby I am carrying now, wondering if he/she will appreciate their older sister and her place in our family, or if it will weigh her down. Obviously, I am hoping for the former.

k@lakly said...

The names and the boys, both beautiful and perfectly connected. I think in my mind, if this one makes it out alive and well, that one thing I want everyone to remember is that I will never believe that Caleb died so that this one could be born but that yes, this one is here because Caleb died. It is, I fear, a distinction that many will not understand, except for those of us here.
The photos are stunning.
xxoo

My Reality said...

Both of your sons are beautiful, Julia.

Magpie said...

You have beautiful children.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I cried when I heard it the first time, and I cried reading it, too.

Both your boys are beautiful, and strong. Just like their mama.

janis said...

This is just beautiful, Julia.
And will you stop making me cry already??

Much love to you & your family, you are such an awesome mom, you know? xoxo

-c said...

That was just amazingly gorgeous. Well said and thoughtful on so many levels. Thank you for sharing and making me cry. Amazing.

Busted said...

Both of your sons are beautiful, and unique. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Catherine said...

But the fact is that you are here reading about the Cub because his brother died.

I understand this too well. And I know how it feels to be torn between two worlds of possibility. I wish it weren't so, but at the same time, how could I possibly wish for a different world than the beautiful one I'm in now?

All of your children are gorgeous.

Ya Chun said...

lovely boys with lovely names

Ange said...

What gorgeous little boys you have. I loved what you wrote.

Lori said...

Oh.... this left me speechless.

I am overcome.

Thank you.

christina(apronstrings) said...

*sigh*
what a sweet post on this sunday morning. your boys are precious. what a well written post.

zenoma said...

Thank you for sharing pictures of your boys. I feel so touched and honored to have a peek at them. You have a beautiful family and we are all so blessed that you share glimpses of yourself with us.

niobe said...

What beautiful names and faces.

Kate said...

I've read your blog for a long time but I don't think I've commented before. I can't even remember how I stumbled across it the first time, but I kept coming back because of your lovely writing.

What a beautiful post this was. Thank you do much for sharing your boys.

I have something I would like to share with you through email. I sent it to the address listed in your profile, so if you see something from an unknown sender, that's me.

BasilBean said...

Julia,
I am so touched by what you wrote and that you shared with us their names and these beautiful pictures. The picture of you with A is so stunning that words cannot convey how deeply it moved me.

Alice said...

Thanks so much for a beautiful post. My daughter looked exactly like her brother as well. And he is a special child because he is the only one that survived ... It is a burden for him, I know. I try not to let him feel it. Alice

kate said...

Your boys are beautiful.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I love both names so much (Li-r was on our list too, but we needed to honour a different name by the time the twins were actually born) and I think it's beautiful how the boys are linked by name meaning.

bostongirl said...

They are both so precious and beautiful. I am crying for the boy who won't grow old, and for the one who will because he's so full of life and is loved so very much. Thank you for sharing your journey. I wish you peace and moments of joy.

Amelie said...

so beautiful, and so full of emotions, sad and happy ones.

loribeth said...

Thanks for sharing, both names & photos. They are gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

This post has taken away my breath and filled my eyes with tears. Thank you for sharing photos of your beloved sons, your two individual sons.

tree town gal

c. said...

Oh, Julia. What beautiful boys. I hear so much love in what you have to write about them. It's beautiful. And yet, there is something so very sad about it, so heartbreaking and awful and wrong. But it's still beautiful, just beautiful (if that makes any kind of sense at all).

(As an aside, thank you for remembering C. and me. XO.)

Rosepetal said...

They are beautiful brothers. May their lights - albeit giving different moods - shine on always.

Sighing over here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing...indeed, beautiful x2.
-Jana

Bon said...

your beautiful boys, with their beautiful names. i always found it deeply comforting, somehow, that like you i knew from the earliest confirmation of gender that my two boys were clearly different people...it allowed me my celebration of both as cleanly as possible given the circumstances and my own belief system, i suppose.

love to you.

Mrs. Spit said...

They are both astonishingly beautiful, perhaps all the more so for the love that surrounds and connects them.

Caro said...

Beautiful, both of them.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

jill said...

Oh, I loved this post! I got all goosebumpy when you shared their names and photos. Thank you for sharing. Funny, how we can become si interested in the lives of the blogs we read. They are beautiful boys.

x said...

Both of your sons are beautiful! I nicknamed my daughter Jade (her real name is Valerie) because before she was born my hubby proposed to me with a gorgeous diamond engagement ring from www.idonowidont.com and it had a jade diamond.

So our daughter is the symbol of our love together and we call her Jade sometimes as a reminder!

Rory said...

You have beautiful sons.

christyna said...

this was beautiful and so are both your sons. I love reading your blog, your thought process, your words.

Anonymous said...

What lovely, perfectly-nosed sons. What a beautiful way to honor them both...

A.

AmyinMotown said...

I am blown away. Two such beautiful boys. And I am so glad, so honored, to know their names. Thank you for showing us A's face, and the so different and yet the same face on The Cub. The connection between their names is lovely as well.

Betty M said...

I have kept this post on my reader for some time coming back to it to read again and again. A beautiful post for two beautiful boys.

Coggy said...

Thank you for sharing this story Julia. They are both such beautiful boys and I love both their names.

wannabe mom said...

Trying to sleep while listening to my boy sigh and suck his fingers via the monitor, but can't sleep now that I'm crying. Thank you for sharing your beautiful boys' names and pictures. They are both so precious. I am honored to 'meet' them.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

They are indeed both precious and beautiful and uniquely themselves. And your love for each of them will endure...

Thank you for this really touching post.