Lauren Joy was named for mothers. Specifically, the mothers who had raised her parents, who loved her from the moment they knew of her, who held her as dear to their hearts as anyone could. Lauren Joy was named for her grandmothers.

“Lauren” for Geordie’s mother. He suggested it, but it’s a name I’ve always loved. A name I had considered for a daughter even before I met Geordie, when the possibility of children was still an unknown. He said the name, and it fit into place, snug and cozy, a name to protect her and keep her safe with the love of a grandmother. I could hear myself calling her that name, could hear others using it for her. It fit her.

“Joy” for my mother. For the happiness she brought to us. I wasn’t sure how I liked the name ‘Joy’ by itself, but as a middle name attached to ‘Lauren,’ it worked so well. The simplicity was so lovely, but it made it all into such a powerful name. Such love lived in it and was given in it. If ever Lauren needed strength and support, she could find it in her name, given to her by two women who loved her so dearly. With her name, she would have love whenever she needed it.

It was so easy to name her. We said the name out loud and knew that it was right if the baby was a girl. It was the only name we could ever agree on. No boy’s name ever made it past the testing stage. We both liked ‘Luke,’ but not with our last name. I liked ‘James,’ Geordie liked ‘Jack,’ but we couldn’t put them together to make anything decent. A boy’s name challenged us, sent us searching for names. We settled – tentatively – on John William, but I refused to call my son ‘Jack.’ We decided we liked ‘Malcolm,’ but we couldn’t find a middle name to go with it. I wanted a boy, but at the same time, I hoped it was a girl. I worried we would get to the hospital and still not have a name for a boy.

But once we knew it was a girl, the worries dissipated. She would be Lauren Joy, the name that was perfect in sound and right for so loved a daughter. My lovely child, my blue-eyed beauty, my joy-bringer.

It did not occur to me, when she died, to take away her name and reserve it for another. Such a lovely name, and how I would have loved to have a living daughter to give that name, but I could not give it to any other child. She is Lauren Joy, will always be Lauren Joy. No other name would do for her. Should our rainbow baby be a girl, we shall just have to find another name for her, a name all her own. For me, those names belong only to my firstborn child.

Before she was born, we did not use her name often. We called her “Lucky.” I haven’t used that nickname since she was born. It hurts me. It wounds me in a way that “Lauren Joy” does not. I can say her given name and feel at peace, serene. But her nickname is a sword that pierces my heart, a sound that shatters me again. The word itself hurts me: lucky. My poor child. Luck abandoned her, left her still and cold within me. I was lucky to have her – unlucky to lose her. I feel I will never be lucky again. When I speak of her now, she is Lauren. Only in my heart do I still call her by the name she had for most of her unborn life.

I like to see her name. Not just the word “Lauren” written out, but in reference to her. I like to hear her name. Her name. People talking about her, writing about her. Her name is music to me, wondrous and amazing. She is a song I heard once and now only have the memory of. Her name is the echo of that song.

“Lauren Joy.” That’s my daughter. My daughter. I carried her, I birthed her, I gazed at her and saw her name written there in her features. No other name could capture who she was and is and will be.

I have so many wishes about Lauren; I must add one more. I wish our mothers had been there to see Lauren when she was born. I wish I could have shown these two wonderful women the girl who bears their names so that they could put a face to the child they both love and miss so much. They gave their names to her, they gave their love to her. The first grandchild, the one perhaps unexpected, wished for but not counted on. She lives on in her name.

“Lauren Joy.” I whisper her name aloud, and it is a prayer. A message sent to her, one of love and longing and hope. It rings like a bell in my mind, in my heart, an echo of her. My daughter and her name.

“O name forever sad! forever dear!
Still breath’d in sighs, still usher’d with a tear.”
     – Alexander Pope

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