Coming up with a name for your first child is an exciting task. In the case of Michelle and her husband Leon, the name of their first child was very special. Their son Tommy was named after Leon’s best friend who died suddenly in 2005 at the age of nineteen, leaving behind a traumatized family and friends.
Michelle: “Leon, my husband, and Tommy were good friends. Together with another friend, the three formed a close-knit group. The three of them often went to play sports. One day, Leon didn’t come because he and his dad were doing odd jobs in their backyard. While they were working in the garden, Leon received a call from the third friend, who told him to sit down for a while, then came the news that his best friend had died suddenly while playing sports.
After that phone call, Leon couldn’t believe it. Tommy had seen the day before and especially the idea that there seemed to be nothing wrong made it unreal for him.
It’s been eighteen years now and I haven’t known Tommy personally, but I still feel that way. Because Tommy appears in so many of Leon’s stories and they’ve been through so many beautiful things together, it’s almost as if you’ve been there. My husband’s in-laws also raise his voice. He was a kid at home there.
It is revealed that Tommy has a heart condition, but he had not had it until then. Later Leon realizes that six months before his death, Tommy said firmly: “I’m never going to get old anyway.” It seemed that deep down he knew, although there was nothing wrong with it at the time. Words cannot explain how shocking it is when someone so young dies suddenly. The feelings were so intense and intense that my husband didn’t know how to deal with it. He packaged it for years. Recently just cried for the first time.
He saw my husband for what he really was
Leon’s stories show that Tommy had a strong personality and had a huge impact on Leon’s life. Leon used to deal with a lot of bullying. He was bullied from third to eighth grade and became defensive as a result. He chomped hard, but Tommy saw it. He saw my husband for what he really was. Through Tommy, Leon has learned to find balance, but still stands up for himself. Tommy was ready for everyone and was always there. He loved children very much and led scouts. He later wanted to be a teacher and was already training in an elementary school. All of these things show how nice Tommy was to others. These are qualities I would also wish for my eldest son. Part of that personality seems to be in the name.
When I got pregnant, I decided to ask Leon to name our son after Tommy. He had to think about it for a while, because of course it was a name that carried a lot of feelings. However, in the end, he also thought it was a very good idea to keep saying Tommy’s name and keep telling his story.
By continuing to say his name, he will be remembered
Tommy is now only six years old. He knows the background and meaning of his name and has heard many great stories about “big” Tommy. He often asks questions about him and what he looks like. We have a big picture of my dad’s best friend and he also has the feeling that he knows him. Our son has already shown Big Tommy personality traits, such as being helpful.
After our son was born, we also broke the news of Tommy’s mom’s “big” name. She visited us and I thought it was very special. She recently sent me a poem by Marinus van de Burgh with the title always. This poem emphasizes the importance of mentioning the name of your loved one. Saying a name brings the person closer to you and makes you tell stories. I liked it that way Tommy’s name keeps being mentioned and he remembers it.
If we had a girl, I would name her after my grandmothers. I take it as a tribute to the women in my family. You are giving your child an extra piece of history. So the memories live on.
In the end we didn’t have any daughters, but after Tommy, two more sons followed. I also really wanted my children to have biblical names. That is why our middle son is called Luke, and the youngest is Benjamin. “