Friday, July 22, 2011

Names.. and Some Scary, Bad News (Not Mine... Not Really)

WARNING: SD, my BFF, if you read my blog (and I don't think you do), DO NOT READ THIS.


Does anyone have any advice on how to choose a middle name?

I think I've got the first name picked, as of a while ago, actually. I told a few people about it, and then I felt weird and stopped discussing it. But I don't know why I lie and tell people that I haven't decided it yet, instead of just saying, "Yes, I know what it is, and I'm not telling you!" So instead I feel weird and awkward... and I lie.

I think there's some fear that my mom will find out the name, and feel compelled to call me up and tell me, "I think that name is a terrible idea." (This would not be entirely out of character for her.) Apparently she did this to my sister. Apparently it runs in the family... my sister just told me that my grandmother referred to my sister as "Amy's flower child" for the first year of my sister's life. Sweet!

But anyway... I don't know if there's some common sense rules about how to align the middle name with the first name? If there is, please fill me in. Like, is there a certain number of syllables to match another set?

The idea I've had for quite a while is to name her (middle name) after my best friend, also my ex-boyfriend.

My ex and I were together for five years, and have been split up for six. From the very beginning, there were niggling doubts... but most of the time, we were so great together. Our minds clicked so beautifully, and yes, the sex was great, too. There was just, you know, that thing that I couldn't put my finger on. Most of the time I could put it out of my head and ignore it.

Four and a half years into our relationship, his eighteen year old son, who has Asperger Syndrome, moved to NYC to be near his dad (from Memphis). Prior to that time, S had called his son on the phone every day for thirty minutes and visited one weekend a month, plus school vacations. Luckily, W didn't move into our apartment... but it felt like he might as well have (he had a series of sublet studio and one bedroom apartments nearby), because he could drop by, unannounced, any time day or night. Into our one bedroom, lacking a bedroom door, apartment... with his booming voice, cackling laugh (I'm not being mean, really, he has full awareness of his habit and enjoys cackling maniacally), his inability to understand the finer points of personal space, his giant belly, and his insatiable need to talk, and talk, and talk... droning on for hours. Frequently after I was in bed for the night. Once, in our upstate house (which likewise lacks proper walls and privacy), I counted -- he talked to (or, more accurately, at) his father for three hours without stopping, mainly sharing his views on Broadway flops (his reigning passion at the time). While I lay upstairs, privvy to every single word, sick as a dog with pneumonia, trying to sleep without success, and ultimately sobbing in frustration. S and I finally had "adult only time" for dinner that night, a gorgeous steak, grilled peppers and portabello mushrooms, and untold other gastronomic delights... and after three bites, I laid my head right on the dinner table. I just had no energy left. (That was just after the first semester of my clinical rotations in pediatrics... i had TEN, count them, TEN colds in a row, basically one per week, then pneumonia, then, after a brief respite, bronchitis and an asthma diagnosis.)

BUT I digress. S and I hung in for a few months, and he even gave me a gorgeous diamond ring (not an engagement ring, mind you, for many reasons... one of them being the pesky fact that he remains married, to this day, to his ex-wife, from whom he has been separated for, hmm, nineteen years now?) that I loved. But ultimately, it was clear to both of us that it just wasn't working... though I guess it became clear to me first. It was an illuminating moment, realizing that both parties can compromise as much as they can possibly bear, even more... and it can still not work out.

But you know what, even while I pulled that plug, feeling guilty and terrible... I felt a sense of relief. I had known, and mostly successfully ignored, that fatal, un-nameable flaw in our relationship. But I knew that his son, as difficult and truly scarring of an experience it had been, was really the lucky excuse, the plausible reason, for me to leave.

Since our peaceful break-up, I've had the best of all possible worlds. We've remained the best of friends, and never went through a period of animosity... though he endured some sadness and I endured some [gnawing] guilt at first. Those feelings are long gone, now, and we have a great time together. I miss our travels and our adventures, but we have the most fabulous dinners and conversations together. We share so many jokes, interests, and passions. He is financially well off, and is incredibly generous with me. Which could be weird, but isn't. Really! Mostly it plays out in him taking me out to dinner, and then giving me cab fare home... in exchange, I'm always the one to bear the brunt of the travel to dinner. Seems fair to me.

But most of all, the thing he gave me... continues to give me... is the unconditional love and support that I didn't know I had been missing.

One of his favorite lines, one that he shares with his family and closest friends, and most especially me, is "of course I'm going to support you no matter what you decide to do."

Growing up in a home with a narcissistic, demanding, angry father plus a mother who was emotional absent anyway, in addition to being tied up with my jealous father... he gave me the experience of being loved no matter what.

He became my family, a family that delighted in my successes and sympathized with my struggles.

Although I've felt some distance from him at times as I've become immersed in the world of pregnancy and preparing for parenting, he's been entirely supportive of my plan to become an SMC from the moment I "conceived" it. I introduced him to running early in our relationship (he's since run, I think, six marathons... three of them with me), and he was quick to tell me that he would be the one to give me a jogging stroller. He also enabled me to get an elliptical just a few weeks into my pregnancy, a purchase otherwise far outside of my financial realm... and one that has already enhanced my life hugely, and no doubt will continue to do so as I juggle my need for exercise with the needs of a child.

Yesterday he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age fifty-nine.

I know that prostate cancer is a "good cancer" to get. If only there was such a thing as a "good cancer."

He's terrified. I don't even know what to feel. My mind is a jumble of emotions. Being nearly thirty-eight weeks pregnant when he got the news probably doesn't help me with digesting it.

The doctor told him, "this isn't the thing that's going to get you." Which is good. Right?

But of course, there are no guarantees, and the ability to pee and fuck when one wants to are abilities we take for granted... until they are casualties of a medical battle we weren't at all ready to engage in.

He doesn't remember what the staging (aggressiveness) of the cancer is... it was all too much to take in at the initial meeting... but he goes for a CT scan next week, and then a meeting to discuss treatment options next Thursday. I'm planning to go to that meeting with him (assuming I'm not in labor). It's a relief to know that there's some little thing that I can do, in this case to be another set of ears, and to ask as many questions as I can think of, and also maybe just a shoulder to cry on. And then I suppose we will just go from there.

I can't really bear to think about worst case scenarios. (Oh, and meanwhile, a close friend emailed me yesterday to say that her boyfriend was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma. I think this is a far worse diagnosis than prostate cancer? But I have no mental energy to process that right now.)

So getting back to middle names... I'm thinking that giving my child a middle name to honor him makes more sense than ever?

PS If you are one of a couple people reading this blog who know S, please don't tell anyone this news. He's not ready for anyone to know yet. I guess I'm taking a risk, blogging about it... but I think the risk is small. Please keep it under wraps.


  1. It is becoming more and more common for children to have two middle names. That way you can honor both of your friends. The funny thing is, I have known my future child's middle name for several years. I think it will be the first name that challenges me the most!

  2. I think it would be a beautiful gesture for you to give your child his name as a middle name. I'm sure it would mean a great deal to him. I don't know of any "rules" about middle names. I think if the name has meaning for you, then that's what you should go with.

    It's always scary to hear the word cancer, but if there's a "good" cancer to get, prostate cancer is one of them. My father is a nine-year survivor of prostate cancer and still going strong, even though he doesn't take very good care of himself. I'll be sending good thoughts for a full recovery for S.

  3. The only rule I've ever heard is that all three names shouldn't have the same number of syllables. I think giving Lentil S's name as a middle name is wonderful. And prostate cancer is cancer, but it has a much better prognosis than most other cancers. I hope you're able to go with him to his appointment. It'll help so much to have you hear it and interpret it all for him.