Clara's wonderful post and pictures got me thinking about how important it is to see and hear our children's names. When my son Xander died, it wasn't long before I started to want to get his name out there into the world. A plaque and rose at the cemetery, his name in the baby memorial book, a plaque at a woodland that my mum arranged, his name is even included in the notes of a friend's PhD, as she focused on stillbirth in literature - I was greatly moved by this gesture from someone I hadn't seen for years. So few people mention him by name now that when they do I could weep with gratitude.
So why is it so important to me? I think it's because that without us writing and saying his name, he has no way of existing in the world. His short life had such a massive impact on me and his dad, but like ripples on a pond, that impact lessens as it spreads out. We have to say his name, because he can't say it himself. He'll never learn to write it. He'll never have his name read out on the school register. He'll never have it written on a certificate for something he's achieved. He'll never have someone write it on a school textbook, encased by a love heart. He'll never have me shout it to call him in for tea. He'll never tell me that he hates it, and wants to be known as Alex from now on. He'll never have it read out at his graduation. He'll never have a lover whisper it softly, or scream it at him when he's upset them. He'll never give his middle name to his eldest son, as his dad and grandad did. He'll never have someone say 'that Xander, he's a good bloke', or 'that Xander, he's a complete shit' (for I'm realistic that either would have been possible).
A mother who has a living child eventually lets them make their own way in the world - they will make their own mark, their name will ring out in whatever way they make happen. But for Xander that isn't an option. His continued presence in the world lies in my hands. It's a show of my love for him to keep his memory alive, to have his name heard. I do it willingly and lovingly. My service for my son. Alexander Marshall Kirby.