What’s in a name?
With my two boys, it says a lot obviously. Choosing names for our children was something I took seriously – as in, career!
Let’s see, Kai, who has always been “Kai” to me even when he was still in my tummy, was born barely three months after Max and I got married. When he came out, I was working on the pre-production requirements of Project Jerry for Greenwich. I’ve had time to surf the net for baby names then because I was going in and out of St. Luke’s beginning end July. Back then, Max wanted to be surprised if the baby in my tummy was a boy or a girl so I kept everything to myself, and “Kai,” pronounced kye, is both used to name boys and girls.
So where did “Kai” and “Malakai Rei” really come from?
I think maybe I still had a hangover from the wedding because Kai stayed faithful to our wedding theme then: water. Kai is Hawaiian for “sea,” where both Max’s and my Dad worked/still works. It is also of Welsh, Scandinavian and Greek origin, which means “keeper of the keys; earth”. In South Africa, Kai means “beautiful”.
How “kai” morphed into “Malakai” was really his mom’s silliness at work – I thought he’d be the only baby Max and I will ever have so I also tried going to a mini-Max meaning and Max, in Tagalog, is “malaki;” put “Kai” in there somewhere and you end up with “Malakai,” which sits well with me (hindi jologs, hindi TH, but very memorable). Oh yea, and he’s also a prophet (which makes his parents seem like Bible experts when they’re actually not) – a Hebrew name, which means, “messenger of God.” His second name is “Rei,” which simply rhymes with “Grace,” and by definition in some other language, is “king.” Now, put them all together and you get a definition that goes: “king of the big ocean, keeper of the earth and messenger of God.”
Now, choosing a name for our second son was tougher than I thought it would be. I had to be equally creative if not more playful than Malakai Rei. So I sent out a brief for name studies to some friends as soon as we found out Kai’s sibling was going to be another baby boy.
It’s a bit easier only because Max knew the gender ahead of time and I was no longer keeping things from him. We agreed it had to be related somehow to “Malakai,” so some mandatories in the brief came out: it had to be biblical too.
Ultimately I had to clear the name studies with Kai. I went to him one day with more than three Biblical names with matching nicknames: Kiel, short for Ezekiel; Ez, short for Ezra, Zak, short for Zachary and a few more.Zak was approved almost immediately, not because Kai was a big fan of the High School Musical, but because he had a classmate named Jac (Jaques Pierre) and Zak sounded like Jac (seems almost everyday that he’d bring home stories about Jaques Pierre).
So “Rafi Zakkari” became Zak’s full name.The AE that I am had to look for justification for each syllable. “Zachary,” pronounced ZAK er ee, is an English form of the Hebrew name “Zechariah,” which means “remembered by God.” It puts me at peace knowing that the entire 61 days that Zak has fought for his life, he was not forgotten.
And “Rafi,” whilst it was a struggle to look for a second name that approximated Max’s Dad’s name (in essence Lolo Simo’s name was already in Kai’s anyway…), Rafi was an effort to seek help from St Raphael, the Archangel, who is deemed to be God’s healing archangel. With holy oils and a special novena given to me by Monette, we peppered Zak’s feet and hands whenever possible (and there were days where there’s nowhere to dab our healing oil because Zak is punctured and bruised all over). I brought all kinds of prayer books and recited them to Zak everyday after I tell him, “Zakiboo, yoohoo…Mommy’s here!” His Dad prayed the Hail Mary to him when he visits. Most of all, Zak had a legion of hopefuls praying for his recovery both here and abroad.
On days when I would sit alone inside the hospital chapel, tired from sounding happy for Zak, I would call on all the saints and angels I know to intercede for us. It was the worst predicament ever, but through all the tears and lumps swallowed, it was sheer faith that carried me through.
And now, Zak himself is an angel in heaven. His purpose is served (heard this lots of times and yes, there were moments I’d cringe at the thought of Zak seen as a thing that simply expired and that’s it. He was my son, the very core of everything I did for 7 months! And now that he’s gone, the greatest loss of all falls on me. How can I expect anyone to grasp exactly how painful it is when I can’t even begin to describe the loss…the pain…the grief…).
He was a life on loan for two short months to bring his family a little closer, a lot more matured, more praying than we ever were…and extra hugging and kissing bunch because it was in the hugging and kissing the we made the pain of the loss more bearable.
Now his name sits on one of the walls of the columbarium at the Shrine of St. Therese. But his struggles and pain and love will resonate among all the people who knew him, visited us, prayed for us, and shared in our despair.
Now it seems easier to let go knowing he was really just on loan…and that he was never mine to keep.
I’ll be missing you for the rest of my life, bunso.
Zak has been gone 25 days today. Please continue to utter a little prayer for him so that his way to heaven will be well lit.