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baby naming

When Naming Your Child After a Loved One is Just Too Painful

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“And would you like to know the gender of the baby?” the cheerful technician asked. We both laughed and acquiesced. I really wanted to know my baby’s gender, and my husband did not want to be left out in the cold. “You look like the type of couple who will be happy whatever it is,” she said. We smiled and shared that newly-married grin. Then, after a few minutes of gliding the glop around my stomach, and hearing the heartbeat, she said, “Ready? I am pretty sure it is a girl.”

“A girl, a girl, a girl… ” The words echoed in my head, swirling and sliding. Somehow, we thought it would be a boy. We wavered daily, vacillating between boy and girl, but most days it was the blue dreams. Later that day, we began discussing name choices. The name was sort of a given, yet it was still a complex matter.

Hindy is a name that means everything to me. Hindy—my sister, a princess, a fighter, a teenager—is no more. We were three sisters, five years apart each in age, with two brothers between us. (That fact, we always joked, showed my grandfather’s CPA gene coming through.) Hindy was the youngest in my family. I vividly remember sitting in the kitchen, 5 years old, strawberry yogurt sliding in my mouth on the Friday morning she was born.

We grew up together—matching dresses, sharing school buses, books, and eventually jewelry, clothes, and more. We also shared our secrets and our feelings. But when Hindy was 14 years old, she began getting sick extremely often. The mumps, a cold, Swine Flu—you name it, she caught it.

Finally, after getting a medical runaround, Hindy was sent for testing, and the results came back: tumor. The biopsy came back with the worst—a rare cancer with no successful treatment available.

Hindy went through everything: treatment, trials, alternative therapies, and natural therapies. And she managed to keep her grace and finesse throughout the year and a half of hell. We stayed close, and still shared it all. We went shopping for clothing, and when she got weaker, we would order online. Sometimes I would text pictures from the store and get her opinion. We wiped away tears of joy if things went well, and tears of sorrow when things went downhill. But throughout it all, we stayed together. We shared an everlasting blood bond.

Two weeks after I got engaged, Hindy was gone. It was not easy, preparing to get married without her. A part of me closed off much of my emotions—I am usually a very sensitive, emotional individual, however, I knew I could not let myself lose it. Hindy never liked when we cried. She rarely complained herself; when given the choice, she opted for the minimum dosage of a painkiller, so her body wouldn’t get used to it.

I plugged along, crossing off errand after errand on my wedding to-do list. I was nervous to actually tie the knot without Hindy’s presence, something I never dreamed would happen. I plunged forward though, and I am sure she was watching, beaming from up high.

Fast forward to now. A few months into my marriage, and I have learned that I will be having a daughter. I knew which name I wanted for our baby. “Hindy,” I told my husband.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “Will you be able to say the name without crying? Will you be able to call her without thinking of your sister?” These questions would reverberate months later, when we announced my daughter’s name. One person even said, “I kind of thought that would be the name, but no one would blame you if it was too painful.”

We ended up compromising and naming our daughter after my grandmother, for whom my sister was named. My grandmother’s name was also Hindy, and while the name is exactly the same, knowing that our baby was named for my grandmother makes her name not as piercingly emotive for my family. My grandmother was an amazing woman who survived the Holocaust. She had 15 children and yet, she was refined and gracious, and always helped everyone. My sister shared many of her wonderful traits, as I hope my daughter will too.

The rushes of emotion that keep coming to me when I call my daughter’s name surprise me somewhat, although I was warned. I think about my sister often. I talk to my daughter about her aunt, and show her pictures. As I sing to my daughter, crooning the same lullabies my mother sang to my sister, tears stream down my face. My baby daughter stares at me curiously. But I guess after blocking out my emotions for so long, some of them are now letting loose. And whether this is because of baby blues or because the name I chose is so heavily weighted, I know this is a good thing.


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