I eagerly handed off my new born son, (spontaneously and unexpectedly named Jacob) to my father. Ryan and I had decided that my dad would be the first to hold Jacob. He had waited his whole life to have a boy to call his own, and we were relieved he had lived long enough to experience the day. (My father is a small cell lung cancer survivor at that time with multiple metastatic lesions, which is exceptionally rare to live through.) As my father extended his arms out to accept his grandson, he handed me Jacob’s first gift; He handed me “A Child’s First Bible”. He then took Jacob in his arms, and I watched him fall in love instantly.
As my father got acquainted with my son, I opened up this gift he brought to me. Though I appreciated my father’s enthusiasm, it was hard for me to be excited about a bible. I’m a devote agnostic, having a strong faith in right and wrong, but not specifically proclaiming to be Christian, which has always been a strong discord between him and I. (And honestly, between myself and the rest of the world. But I’ll save that for another blog.) And yet, I couldn’t help but open the cover.
This bible has 255 pages. My first time opening this book, I turned to this page:
I could not help but be humbled. How could this not be a sign? I had spent months wondering if I would be punished (by God, society or otherwise) for having a baby out of wedlock. It was at this moment, finding my son’s name in a bible, that I could feel that all of this was meant to be. Jacob was, in the truest meaning of the word, my blessing.
Though, there was a small moment of doubt. The second night we were home, running on fumes and not being able to catch any reasonable amount of sleep while we were trying to learn how to nurse, I looked at my new bundle of joy. My sweet, boy.. my sweet… (cue tears.) “RYAN!” And I frantically went off about how I couldn’t remember his name, and how I was the worst mom ever. After a blank stare, Ryan finally muttered, “Joshua”, which sounded all wrong. We shook our heads at each other on the brink of exhaustion. Of course his name was Jacob.
When I found out that I was expecting my second baby, I immediately knew his name was Benjamin. I was so busy chasing Jacob around at that point, I didn’t have a lot of time or effort left in me to debate any other names with Ryan. He had agreed that Benjamin just seemed right. We began trying to teach Jacob his baby brother’s name. Jacob could only remember his name as “Dora”.
A few short weeks after Benjamin was born, my father thanked me for giving him another bible name. Surprised, I decided to play it cool and pretend as if I had realized that in advance. He then went on to explain to me that Benjamin was Jacob’s son in the bible. Benjamin was the son of the right hand. (For the accurate version of why Benjamin was named so by his father, click the link.) Just as it had two and a half years prior, my heart swelled as I took in the meaningful moment I was having with my father. Surely this too, was a sign that Benjamin was our blessing.
Later that year, my Gma Rae came out to visit me and meet Benjamin. When she arrived, she was very excited to share with me the excitement of why Jacob and Benjamin had the perfect names. (And, having spoken with my father, I thought I was miles ahead of her…) As we were sitting out on front step of my porch, she explained to me that her grandfather’s name was Jacob. (My Great-great grandfather was Jacob.) She liked very much that I had recycled a family name. I shared the story of Jacob and Benjamin from the bible with her, and she too was moved by the coincidence.
One day recently, I was early in thinking about creating this post in my mind. I decided to Google the true story of Benjamin to be sure I told the story about Benjamin correctly (which I ultimately decided to link to, in the interest of excessive word counts) and I took time to read the story throughly.
I lost my grandmother this time last year. I regret that I didn’t know in time to tell her that Jacob’s wife in the bible, Benjamin’s mother, shared her own name, Rachel. (Ben’s Great Grandma’s name was Rachel.) When I read this, like the previous times I had found meaningful coincidences with my children’s names, my eyes swelled hot with tears and I missed my grandmother more than ever. I thought back in my memory to the day we were sitting on my front porch, having the conversation about her Grandparents. Her father’s name again? Yes, Jacob. Her mother’s name again? I looked to my street sign. Amazingly, my street shared a name with my Great Grandmother. And I could recall my Gma Rae being very excited as she noticed that while sitting out on the porch that day. In fact, it had been turning onto my road that she noticed the sign and the coincidence of the matching names.
I have no doubt that my boys were destined to be just as they are, names and all. They are my blessing from and my reward to a family rich with love and memories. (Now if I could only get my husband talked into adopting my Marilyn Rae….)