Being pregnant with my first child several years after losing my sister Jane, there was no question in my mind of wanting to name the child for my late sister. How would my parents feel? Out of respect to their grief with great trepidation, I asked the question about having a grandchild sharing the name of their deceased daughter. Thankfully I received the green light.

The pregnancy progressed and my deepest desire for a girl to be able to use the name of my treasured sister not divulged to a living sole, kept quiet in my own thoughts. Should the sex of the baby be a boy, another name, not a name with the letter “J” would be used, as is the tradition. Naturally first and foremost only wanting a healthy baby. For nine months in my mind the certainty I was going to have a boy. This based on the way I appeared to be carrying the new arrival.

Buried in the barrels of my brain also thoughts – do I really have to think about naming a child after a lost sister? Not a grandparent or parent. This is not the normal evolution. Families spar over naming rights of a child.

Jane Esther arrived on time the exact due date predicted by the doctors. Totally shocked and elated I delivered a beautiful baby girl. The instant she looked me directly in the eyes my heart melted and knew unequivocally the name Jane the correct one. The nickname Janie would delineate uniqueness for her to alleviate some of the burden carrying the name might endure.

I never discussed with my parents their emotions regarding the naming or they with me all these years. Taking the lead from them I never discussed with my daughter how she felt, a conversation we do need to have. A code of silence. My parents instantly were head over heals in love, over the moon to have a new life to celebrate and focus on.

When Janie was about five, I ran into a woman whom I went through elementary school to high school with. I had not seen her since. She outright asked how my parents felt about Janie being named for my sister Jane. Stunned by the boldness of the question I did not respond. No one ever neither asked nor brought up the name though knew the family history.

Thirty-four years later my grandson was born and named for my beloved father Benjamin – we call him Benji. My mother said to me. “ You will always have a Benji in your life.” Perhaps that how she felt about Janie being named for my sister Jane and could not express it, and a way I never took view. In retrospect what a lovely perspective on honoring another individual with a name.

No one can replace my sister Jane, my younger sister whom I cherish each and every day. Knowing a piece of her lives on in my Janie is something I can appreciate more today after finally doing my work on grief.

Going through the baby pictures, the uncanny resemblance my sister Jane holds to my daughter Janie. Being able to pass down personalized jewelry to my daughter is bittersweet. Janie holds a piece of Jane’s personality. We used to joke about my sister Jane that when she was good she was very very good and when she was bad she was horrid.

When my sister Margie died after both my daughters were born. There is no one to carry her name.

To be named for another individual is an esteemed honor and a legacy bestowed.

 

 

 

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Judy Lipson

I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. I lost my younger beloved sister Jane died at age 22 in an automobile accident in 1981, and my older beloved sister Margie passed away at age 35 after a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia in 1990. I am the sole surviving sibling. As the Founder and Chair of “Celebration of Sisters,” this annual ice skating fundraiser honors and commemorates the lives and memories of my beloved sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. The event is scheduled the first Sunday in November as Jane’s birthday was November 6th and Margie’s November 8th. We celebrate all lost siblings, their legacies as they live on in all of us. Since the inception of Celebration of Sisters in 2011, I have embarked on the journey to mourn the losses of my beloved sisters that had been suppressed for 30 years. The process unmistakably the greatest challenging time in my life proved to be the most empowering, enlightening and freeing. Now that I am allowing my sisters and their memories to return to my heart where they truly belong, I am re-discovering myself, happier and more at peace. Ice skating is a sport shared by me and my sisters and a chord throughout my life. It has brought me full circle to pay tribute to my sisters and bring me joy, peace and healing. I live in Boston and am the mother of two grown daughters. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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