This post is part of a ten-post series I’m sharing about the life and loss of our son, Afton. Click here to read more of Afton’s story.
We didn’t have a name picked out yet. Since the beginning, our baby name wishlist had been sort of high-maintenance: I wanted a nature-inspired name, bonus if it ended with an “n.” Bjork wanted a short name with a Scandinavian feel. We’re “those” people.
The day before Afton was born, Bjork’s parents came to visit us in the hospital. I was coming in and out of sleep, and they sat talking quietly in the chairs next to my hospital bed. Their conversation shifted to poetry and music, and in my hazy state of mind I heard Bjork say something about Nickel Creek and the song “Sweet Afton.” I’m not saying this to be dramatic – I honestly felt like a little bolt of lightning zapped me. I snapped wide awake. Afton. With Bjork and his parents still talking about poetry, I grabbed my phone and started googling.
Afton: a river in Scotland, for my nature theme.
Afton: a Swedish word that means afternoon or evening, for Bjork’s Scandinavian feel.
Afton: a name ending with an “n,” for my weird enjoyment of names ending with “n”.
And “Sweet Afton”, one of our favorite songs.
I started crying.
Bjork looked at me, mid-conversation, and asked me if I was okay. Yes, I said. Yes, I’m okay.
That night, we talked about the name. It felt so right. “Let’s sleep on it,” we said. And then things took a fast turn – we went from bedrest to emergency c-section at just 23 weeks and 3 days. We still hadn’t picked our baby’s name.
The room emptied to give us a minute alone before the surgery, and Bjork and I could hardly see each other through our tears. We were about to meet our son, but it was way too early. Lung development, long term health complications, survival… the weight of it all was suffocating. We stayed quiet, holding hands. And then, in the silence: “Afton?” Bjork said gently. “Afton.” I said back.
Sweet Afton is called a hymn for peace, and it’s so fitting. We played this song during Afton’s birth, through his last moments on earth as we held him close, and once more as we laid him to rest in peace forever.
Flow gently, my sweet Afton. You are so loved.