Years ago I lost a son. His name was Adrian.
Over time, the pain has dulled. But the what-might-have-been never really goes away. Not totally. Although my husband, Tony, and I never talk about that dark episode in our lives, Adrian's memory has a permanent place in each of our hearts.
It was a delicate pregnancy from the very beginning. With due care and complete medical attention, however, I completed my sixth month and was advised to stay in the hospital until I completed my seventh month. By then, Adrian would be ready for Cesarean section. Tony and I had a long list of names to choose from—one column for boys and one column for girls. In those days, the first question one asked after a delivery was, “Boy or girl?” The ultrasound was just an inspired thought.
But after only ten days in the hospital, my water broke. Adrian bounded out. Again, in those days, incubators or whatever you call those thingamajigs were not as equipped, as they are today, to save lives. Adrian’s lungs collapsed.
Tony and I shared a quiet, very quiet, grief. For there was nothing left to talk about. Close to seven months, we both talked all we could and tried to do everything so I might come into full term. But it was not to be.
My three living children are oblivious to this grief. JC was barely four years old when that happened. And JB was only conceived six months later. It took another five years before JR was born.
About the only connection they had with Adrian was our few-and-far-between visits to the Holy Cross Memorial Park where we would play a little game of searching for Adrian’s marble slab among the hundreds of similar slabs, sit under a tall tree nearby, and pan with our eyes the stretch of the cemetery. All this in a few minutes and we would leave again. Those trips were some kind of an informal ritual of remembering, nothing more.
Adrian’s name would also surface during our clan’s annual family reunion when we remember the clan members who have gone ahead. Again, this was another family ritual of remembering and an act of thanksgiving for their lives. Nothing more.
So, what next? How does this post end? It ends not of darkness that shadows loss; but with grace, it ends of brilliance that comes with gain.
A few days ago, Tony and I have been blessed with our very first grandson. JB’s wife, Gianina, gave birth to a healthy eight-pound baby boy! Born in a hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, where JB is an internist, our grandson is beautiful. JB couldn’t quite describe him on the phone but I knew so—I am his grandmother. When his photos came in today, I have been proven right. For me, he has to be the best looking baby in the world!
His name is Adrian.
Of all the millions of existing or possible names, his parents chose Adrian for reasons only they know. It has never been verbalized, or maybe it was, but I didn’t hear. “Adrian lives on,” I think I heard Tony murmur, or was it just my imagination?
Adrian, our son, and Adrian, our grandson—two separate beings, two separate blessings. One should not take the place of the other.
One’s life ended before it could start. And the other one’s life has just begun. But the fact that my grandson’s name is also Adrian makes my heart swell. I feel love flying from across the seas, welcomed home warmly; then on the return flight, we (I speak on Tony's behalf) send ours.
What’s in a name? Love cannot be dissected or analyzed. It is something that so wrenches and wrings your heart words need not be said.
Writing has taught me that people vary in how they express love. I find difficulty in expressing it sometimes—in words, anyway. Sometimes I don’t quite know how to receive it, or how to react to it.
Writing has taught me that humans fall short of love—in its giving or receiving. Only God, despite His power and authority over everyone, was willing to demonstrate love totally by dedicating His life and death on the cross to His sinful, mindless children, us, whom He loves.
Writing has taught me that we spend our lives looking for love and yet, when it is found, it couldn't be seized. Which is probably why I am writing, and continue to write till the Lord takes me home, because I can write about love better than I can show it.
I hope JB and Gianina read this post, because I don’t know how to thank them enough for naming their first son, Adrian. And for giving Tony and me a grandson we can dote on (wait till he comes to the Philippines!) and who will teach us how to love—with no reservation, inhibition, or condition.