What’s in a Name?

May 7th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Couple months ago, I met a guy who had those eyes – eyes that had seen a few things. We shared a meal, and he told me his story. After serving nineteen years of a fifteen to life sentence, he’d been out of prison for less than a year. Not an atypical story. At an early age, he got mixed up with a wrong crowd. Before he knew it, he was running with a gang, perpetrating petty crimes. The criminal activity escalated. By his late teens, he was locked up for robbery. His father visited him often. Told him he loved him, and that there was still a future for him. He wasn’t buying it.

Sometime that first year while doing time on robbery, he was pulled out of jail and charged with murder. “It was like a slap in the face. I was ‘asleep’, like everything was okay. And then ‘murder one’, it just woke me up. I did it; I knew I was guilty. I thought, ‘My life is over.'”

Again, his father was there. On one of his visits, he asked him, “Do you know what your name means?” He had an ethnic name, and being born in the States, he had never sought out its meaning. “Your name, it means ‘life’. And your middle name means ‘full’.” It broke his heart.

Later that day, back in his cell, his life changed. Couple days later, he was offered a plea. He took it. At sentencing, he was, in his words “…so ashamed, but given the courage…” to face his victim’s family, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. To his surprise, the father of the victim stood and asked the judge for leniency. “He is just a boy,” he heard this father say, “My boy cannot be brought back, but this one still has so much life left.”

“Your name, it means Life.”

What’s in a name? I’d say quite a bit. Like the hopes of a father. The man I met was a man determined to live up to his name.

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