Thirty-three weeks after the second day of the new year
This one isn’t a post about writing. It is a personal post and I am therefore writing it simply as me, Claire, or actually as us, a family. My family. Kate, who you know as Sister, has asked me to write this post. She thinks it’s time to explain something that is related to our family’s Canada Quest—our names. And so here it is, explained in context, while also telling you some more about us as I’ve promised to do.
When our small family first made the decision to move to another country, our focus was the move and the country we chose as our new home, Canada. Beyond that, we thought we’d be moving as who we were then, continue doing the work we were doing at the time, proceed with the idea we had in mind for our future. But as things turned out, changes were to touch every part of our life. Nothing today is as it was then, at the beginning.
When you want to immigrate to another country you’re required to provide information about yourself, about what you do, about your past. You find yourself looking at your life, all aspects of it. You go through documents, old and new, you encounter old photos, and family stories come up about the past, some you knew about, some you forgot, some you’ve never heard. But not only that: when you take a thorough look at your life and the lives of the people you love, fundamental questions necessarily come up, and family discussions ensue. Even as our immigration process went on, these discussions continued, lengthy talks about what was, what is, and what we actually want there to be for us. And by the time we realized the formal immigration process had stalled, that there was no hope in it, we already had in us, as a family, the understanding that we weren’t going to give up, that we were going to find our way to the life we want in Canada. That, and a new understanding of just how much we want that life and how much more we intend to achieve in it than we originally thought.
You know one of the results of this: Kate and I started Author and Sister. But here’s another outcome: we changed our names. The names you know us by aren’t our original ones, Kate and I were given different names by our mother, names that fit the country we were born in. But with what we were now doing, seeking a new life in a new country, we also wanted to leave behind the names we felt symbolize the life we don’t belong in. We fit in a different country, a different culture, a different way of thinking—by now you know what I’m talking about, between my Canada Quest post twenty-three weeks after the second day of the new year, the interviews we’ve already had and the Facebook posts we put up along the way—and we wanted our names to fit our new life, to fit who we are.
The first thing we did was go through given name lists. Popular names, names that were prevalent in the years we were born and since, names prevalent in English speaking countries. We must have looked at and discussed hundreds of names. Kate and Claire, we took to these names early on, but we continued to look at others, at endless lists that ended up with all the names crossed out because no name fit. We always returned to Kate and Claire, these were the right names for us. Right, but not complete. I, Claire, felt something was missing. And then one evening I was doing something else entirely, and it came to me. Anna Claire. That was it. That was my name. And Kate, she took to it immediately, and it was only natural, then, that she add another name too. And this one was obvious: Anne is a character she loves in a book. And so Kate Anne came to be. And our mom? Easy. Judith Edna. That’s our mom.
At the same time, we were also looking for a new surname. A name that would say who we are. Again we went through lists, but this time the process was cut short. No name felt right, no name was our family. Surnames have meanings behind them, histories that tend to mean something to the families bearing them. And we wanted a name of our own, a name that would say what we are about. A name that would attest not to a history we were leaving, but to a new future, a family history yet to be made. An outlook of hope, that’s what our family wanted our name to say. And that’s how our surname came to be. We are a family that decided to make a better life for itself, to make hope become reality. We are a family that decided to look to a future, to look forward. Forever looking forward, that’s who we are. And that’s the name we chose for the life we are working to attain: Everward.
One day that’s the name we’ll be free to use, along with the given names we’ve chosen, in the country that we are fighting to make our new home, Canada. But for now we still live in a country we feel like strangers in, immersed in a struggle we keep hidden from those around us, answering to names that are no longer who we are. Waiting. Counting the days. Today the count has reached 974 days since we submitted our first visa applications. Exactly 2 years and 8 months. Should I give the count for tomorrow? No, I don’t think so. Tomorrow is a new day. A new week, in the count of this blog. There’s still time, maybe something good will happen today.
This week’s tip for all of you, readers, from the Everward family: whatever happens, whatever challenges you encounter, do the best you can every day of your life, keep your dreams in your heart and mind, and never lose sight of hope.