My dear sweet Cielle Rose,
Today your daddy and I went to the doctor for our 38th week visit. My ankles are a little swollen. I had a headache this week that concerned me, but it hasn’t come back thankfully. I’m always thinking about how you’re doing. Every doctor’s appointment brings a little relief to the worries that come along with having a baby. Each time, I am so happy to find out that your heartbeat is normal and that you seem happy and comfortable. We are waiting for you to decide when to enter the world now. It’s your first big decision whether you know it or not!!
Today, your daddy got some bad news. A friend of his from college died this morning. Even as I write this, I get tears in my eyes. It’s not that I knew him so well, but that this happened in the first place that has me upset. The first wedding your daddy and I went to together was this friend’s wedding. It was my first Jewish wedding, and it was in New Orleans a couple of years before Hurricane Katrina. The weather was beautiful…not too hot and humid, just comfortable enough. The day of their wedding was overcast.
We sat in the synagogue and witnessed the circling of the bride and groom under the chuppah as they vowed their love and devotion to each other. I remember little else of the small wedding, but their love and respect for one another stood out to me.
On Sunday, we will go and honor this friend’s life at our first funeral together.
I tell you this because it brought to mind how your name came to be, intentionally and unintentionally. At first, it was that your name was beautiful. But it has become something more than just beauty. And the death of this friend made me realize that I want to sit down and write to you about what your name has come to mean to me because the fragility and toughness of life were made clear to me again.
Since my mom died, death and life have been inextricably linked. Living life to the fullest, or even understanding its richness or appreciating its beauty without having had the experience of losing my mom is not the same. In all reality, I cannot tell you how I would think of the experience of life without having lost.
When your daddy and I got married, I sewed designs in our chuppah, inspired to create a visual representation of the promises we were about to make. I chose symbols that expressed the complexity of love and of joining together. The central symbols in our chuppah are the sun and the ocean to honor the rising and falling of nature and of the currents of life.
In French, ‘ciel’ means sky and heaven. As we were coming up with names for you together, I was struck by the beauty of the word, but also by the fact that it is fitting that you be called sky or heaven. I love this name because in our chuppah, the sky has to be inferred. The sun and the ocean do not exist without the sky. Neither your dad nor I are hippy enough to call you Sky or Heaven in English, but it works in French.
In some ways, your daddy and I are bonded by the understanding of death’s touch in life; his dad died in 2003. Though I don’t believe in heaven or hell, I loved the idea of your name honoring the vastness of the universe, of joining with our wedding symbols, of, when paired with your middle name (which was my mom’s middle name), Rose, suggesting the morning or evening, the beginning or end.
Cielle Rose, you are both the sunrise and the sunset, beautiful and vibrant, signaling the beginning and the end of the day and night. Even I do not fully understand the meaning of your name, and I love it for that reason. It is for you to love and to hate, to struggle with and to, I hope, appreciate. I pass on my mom, the grandma you will never know except through the stories my family tells you, to you through this name. We give you the gift of the power of symbols and hope that it means something to you.
I tell you the story of today to memorialize it for myself. It marks something significant to me, though I cannot put my finger on it.
I invite you to come now whenever you are ready to begin your life outside of the womb! We will embrace and love you the best that we can, as our parents did.
In all of life’s fullness, beauty, and love,