Capture Your Grief, Day 3
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. ‘Ah, Lord GOD!’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak. I am too young!’ But the LORD answered me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.” (Jeremiah 1:5-7)
Your name. It came to me in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. It was early on in the pregnancy, and we weren’t finding out the gender. I had always thought I would have a Rebecca if I had another girl. But God named you before you were mine: Teresa Elizabeth. This was to be your name.
Teresa: “One who reaps; a harvester.”
Elizabeth: “God is my oath.”
It was perfect. After all, you were conceived a week after Mother Teresa’s canonization, and we found out about your existence on the feast of St. Therese. The debilitating migraines I had also been suffering with for years with no relief had also disappeared during my pregnancy for you, and St. Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of headaches. Your name, taken after “the big three,” as I like to say. My favorite Teresa’s.
Elizabeth fit in nicely with your sister’s names. Your first sister is named after the Blessed Mother, Mary. And your second sister’s middle name is named after the Blessed Mother’s mom, St. Anne. St. Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin. In a way, I feel as though your names connect you beyond life and death.
As time continues, the meaning of your name reveals itself to me. I love to see it. I love to hear it. I love to speak it.
When people actually say your name, I am filled with both sorrow and pride. Sorrow, because I miss you deeply. Pride, because I am your mother! But people don’t say your name very often, and I need to hear it. When your name is spoken, your existence is validated, and I am reminded that you are not just a memory. I am reminded that you are tangible. I am reminded that people aren’t afraid to “go there,” and to talk about grief. I am reminded that I have been changed by your existence, and that I may never be the same, and that should be OKAY. It should be acceptable. I am reminded that people might just care about how I am “really doing,” rather than just dismissing your life, and the impact losing you has made on mine. I am reminded that your life had dignity and worth and value. That you were someone, even though you didn’t come out alive. I am reminded that you are holy and that your name is something that never leaves my mind.
We first called you by name at your delivery. “It’s a girl,” they said. TERESA, we cried, lamented and broken.
We visit your grave, and your father and I trace your name over and over. I trace the etched letters, as the tears fall, and I envision what it would be like to trace the delicate features of your face, instead. And your littlest big brother. He loves your name. He writes it over and over and over…every day. And he’s not afraid to speak it. Although he is so small, his heart is so big, and his love for you is so vast.
Your name. Not a name I chose, but a name that was given. Your death. Not a reality I chose, but a reality that was given. I love you, Teresa. Even though you are gone, your name—it will never leave me.