On the night we named you, I whispered Sylvia against your ear. Sylvia Olive Ingrid, your name forever and always.
You were five-weeks-old, when we made the announcement. Your family gathered in our kitchen to wish you, darling Sylvia, a beautiful life. I’d like to think you smiled when your name touched your skin, but instead you crinkled your nose and cried. Perhaps you were startled by the clinking of glasses, or just hungry. I’ll never know.
On the night we named you, your brothers wrestled in their best party shirts, while your father rode his yellow unicycle, outside in the dark. He bought it the day before he had surgery on his knee. Oh, how I love their enthusiasm. And your sister retreated to the quiet of the garden. I don’t blame her. She told her father it was so noisy she would need twenty ears. “Why do adults talk so much?”, she asked. And you, dear Sylvia, slept though it all.
And how sweet you looked — ice-cream pants, ballet socks and a lemonade vest. Your sister dressed you. Oh, how she adores you. One day, you will explore the world together. Perhaps you will climb mountains, paint rainbows, or discover secrets of the universe. Whatever moves your heart, little Sylvia.
On the night we named you, we ate fourteen boxes of pizza and an octopus. Jiji and Baba rolled pieces in sticky batter to make Takoyaki — octopus balls. Memories of friends from far-away countries on their lips. One day, we will take you there to meet them. And I heard your Uncle snicker, “Octavia?”.
When your family arrived, the house prickled with suspense. “Just tell us the name”, they demanded. But a good name takes time, dear Sylvia, and yours was borne by three women, gracious and extraordinary: Sylvia, an old lady who lived next-door to your father when he was a boy; Olive, your great-grandmother, who survived to ninety-seven on a secret diet of Tim Tams and bananas; and Ingrid, your Auntie, your father’s twin, so long side by side.
On the night we named you, your Grandmother wrapped you in a beautiful lace-blanket. She knitted it for you, dear Sylvia, with merino wool and all the lullabies and laughter from her childhood, mine too. And your Auntie fussed over the dessert, a banana cake, not flawless. Though nothing is, dear Sylvia.
And as they left, your family wrote a wish for you. “Welcome to crazy town”, your Uncle signed. And nothing felt more honest. Then I laid you in your bassinet, and we slept until three-fifteen. My party girl. My Sylvia.
On the night we named you, darling Sylvia, you were so loved. May you be loved forever and always.