Ever since figuring out that we were pregnant a second time, the great search for a name began. Would it be a strong and bold name or a classic and wise name? In the back of my mind I always wanted to pay homage to a family member of mine who had passed but figuring out how it would fit our little one was proving to be more of a challenge.
We ended up in Hawai’i for a nice little two week break. I had planned it earlier with the intention of it being our first family trip across the ocean. Just two months after buying the plane tickets, it went from planning snorkeling and horseback riding adventures to planning a relaxing “Baby Moon” (kind of like a Honeymoon but for when you are expecting).
We were 21-weeks along when we embarked on my vacation with the gender folded away nicely in an envelope–we would open it on our first day of paradise.
Excitedly we tore open the envelope and found that we would be blessed with another girl. We couldn’t be more excited! Immediately, we looked at each other and wondered what her name would be. My dreams began to be filled with images of holding my beautiful little one.
Soon enough, everything began to be potential names. Trees, fish, birds, flowers–many lists were created.
And then a street name sign caught my eye. It was a name that I had known and was familiar. At least part of the name was.
Malia \m(a)-lia\ as a girl’s name is pronounced ma-LEE-ah. It is of Hawaiian origin, and the meaning of Malia is “perhaps, probably”. Also has been known to mean “calm waters” and a variation of “Mary” in Hawaiian.
I turned to A.J. and asked him what he thought. He hadn’t said no so I immediately put it in our finalized list for consideration. And then we stewed over all of the names that we liked to see which one would stick.
The months ticked down into weeks before our baby shower, when I wanted to make the announcement and we started thinking about baby names again. A few people would ask and I would stay mum. The last thing I wanted to do was jinx anything.
As we started narrowing down the names, the idea of honoring a dead loved one popped up again. But how would I be able to do that?
And then the name “Malia” came up again. The reason it was a name that I had known was because it was part of the first name of my youngest paternal uncle. However, everyone knew him by his middle name “Paul.”
His first name was Somalia.
Though it was supposed to be pronounced \s(a)-moe-lie\, whenever anyone saw his name written out would pronounce it like the country \s(a)-m(a)-lia\.
This was the one. I wanted this to be our little one’s name.
We talked it over a little bit more, explaining the importance and significance of the name and A.J. agreed, too. Now, we just needed to wait to unveil the name to our loved ones.
The day finally came and through all of the whirlwind of the activities of setting up, eating, socializing and playing games, I nearly forgot to make the announcement. A coworker of mine said, “So have you thought about a name?” Oh yeah! The name!
After opening all of my presents, while everyone still had their attention on me, I cleared my throat and started my story as my husband stood nearby.
“My uncle Paul was important to me. He was important to my whole family and if you were to ask any one of us about him, we would tell you he was a warm and funny person. He died too young, only just about 24 years old, but he had a huge impact in all of our lives.”
By this point I am teary-eyed, not sure I could continue on. I am looking throughout my family members and they, too, are teary-eyed. I can’t do this. With my pregnancy hormones I am definitely going to bawl my eyes out.
“I wanted to name my daughter after someone who passed away and I choose to use the last portion of his first name. Not many people know it but it was unique. Our daughter’s name will be “Malia.””
At this point I look over at my cousin Jennifer who is absolutely in tears and I can’t hold back mine anymore. I take a few minutes to gather myself and finish.
“There isn’t a day that does by that I don’t think about him. I miss him so much. In fact, he was such a great person, I actually feel honored to name her after him.”
It’s true. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t grieve for my uncle. The grief never fells lessened. He died just a couple of weeks before my birthday and so I am always reminded of him. I am grateful for every year that I continue to live and feel that my life is a testament of living it to make all of my deceased family proud.
If there is only one thing that I want from my daughter Malia to live up to, I want her to love life as much as my young uncle.
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