My wife and I choose one name for our son before he was born: Benjamin Edward. Benjamin after Pam’s Poppy, and Edward after my Father, my Pop-Pop, and my own middle name. Ben. Benny. Big Ben. This was the name I wanted for my boy. I wanted to call him this his whole life. It was young, and it was distinguished. I wanted this to be the name of my son, my living son. This is why I wanted to call him Stephen: I had fallen in love with Ben. Ben was too painful.
After he was born, in the short time he stayed with us in the hospital room, Pam’s mom was the first to call him Ben. As soon as I heard her say this I quickly tried to stop the tide, “Pam and I don’t know what his name is yet,” I told her.
Then I heard my dad call him that.
Then my mom.
The hardest thing for me that night was giving him his rightful name. It made it real. I could forget Stephen. I could move on from him. I didn’t even really know him. But Ben, this was the name of the little boy, my son, who I wanted to share Christmas trains with. I wanted to take Ben to school. I wanted to read him Harry Potter. I wanted to watch Lord of the Rings with him. To take him for Jeep rides with the top down. I wanted to take Ben camping. I wanted to take Ben to see U2, general admission, at Madison Square Garden. Ben, I loved. Stephen, I could forget.
But it was out. It was as if God himself was forcing me to always remember my first born son. That night we named him Benjamin Edward Miller. The most beautiful name in the world to me. He’s my knight at the round table. He’s my hero. And, in these pictures I’m sharing with you, you can see the son I’m so proud of. My son fought hard. My son is strong. My son is beautiful.
I’ll never forget my dad that night. He was so quiet. He tired so hard to say the right thing. You could see the pain on his face for us. My dad just wrote a book called, “A Praying Life.” He dedicated the book to his seven grandchildren. That night, I was unaware that he was being tormented with this fact. The fact that he wasn’t going to have seven, but six grandchildren. The book was going to print that very day. If dad was going to change something, his editor needed it immediately. My dad choose to keep it at seven, because he does have seven. It’s just that now one of them is in heaven. He was and is a person.
As my dad was sitting there God must have whispered into my dad’s ear, “Paul, your son is hurting so badly right now. He loves his son so much. I’m afraid there is a major part of him that wants to forget about this. It’s like he wants his memory erased like ‘Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind’. We can’t let him forget. He needed to name him Ben. Can you help him remember?”
That night my dad gave me the most wonderful gift in the whole world. He sent a text to the publisher. My father erased the dedication to his seven grandchildren.
When you open the book, this is what it reads:
In Memory of Benjamin Edward Miller
March 10, 2009
Our seventh grandchild and heavenly treasure
I wanted to forget so bad that night. Just to erase it all. But that wasn’t in the cards for me either. Now I want his name tattooed on my forehead so the whole world will know my love for him. But God spared me from an embarrassing tattoo and gave me this. I don’t care if dad sells 10 books or a million. It just means the world to me that Ben’s name is in everyone’s home who buys this book. He’s my son and I want the world to know.
You can order a copy here: A Praying Life, by Paul Edward Miller