Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Eureka Moment

One night this past week I was lying in bed, my night owl brain trying desperately to, again, conform to the morning person patterns on which our house runs. (I am the sole night owl. It has been a continuous struggle.)

Random thoughts sometimes fly on nights like that. I have no recollection as to what stirred these memories, but I was suddenly taken back to my junior year of college. Allow me to expound...

Early spring. I remember because I had been tricked by Mother Nature into wearing a light sweatshirt that was quickly revealed as being too light in the mountain-top gusts of wind that whistled past my frame. I was on my way to some obligatory meeting. I don't recall what; it obviously didn't make an impression on me. All I know is that I was feeling dread and wishing the time would go by so I could go back to "our" dorm room and cuddle w/ Steve and warm up.

As I walked across campus to the meeting, I saw, not even a foot away from the heavy traffic in the fading light, a minute creature huddled on the ground. I was astonished this was lying here and went to look closer. It looked like a baby mouse, but its tail was much too long for a mouse. I looked up and saw a knot of branches and leaves and figured it was a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest.
Photo Courtesy of:

So, I picked up the newborn and cradled it in my hands for the next two hours, trying desperately to transfer some of my waning body heat to it.

Steve was a trooper. His hands are always so warm, and he gladly took over the maternal cuddling of the baby. The two of us made up a bed in a shoebox, but the baby woke every hour during the night and squealed for his(?) mommy. He was cold and hungry. Every time he woke, Steve or I cuddled it again to warm it up. The next day, we got medicine droppers and fed it milk mixed with corn syrup until we could find someone to adopt him. Thankfully, we only had to wait until the end of the day, as it turns out a woman in housekeeping had raised squirrels before.

Why is this important? It's not. But it's curious. I realized I've always had an affinity for the name 'Sydney.' Steve and I named the baby squirrel Sydney the Squirrel. We would check in with the woman in housekeeping regularly until she informed us he'd been released to the wild. Our first 'child' together was named Sydney, and our first CHILD together is named Sydney. There must be a connection, somewhere.

Granted, Steve's great-grandfather was named Sidney. And my favorite character from A Tale of Two Cities is Sydney Carton. We didn't find out gender when we were pregnant, and the neutral name seemed to fit quite well. But I was so excited to realize I had used the name in the past that I woke Steve just to make sure I was remembering the name correctly. I had not thought of our squirrel in years. 

The human psyche is fascinating. Other than a desire to see Sydney, Australia, I have no idea why the name strikes such a chord with me. Regardless, my son has a name that suits him wonderfully, and has history in it - not only within his father's ancestry and literature, but within our Nichols Family history, as well. Fascinating, and beautiful.


  1. Such a cool story, Dionne! There is definitely something to names. My Steve is the 3rd Steve that I dated before getting it right:) and you have a Steve too. I'm the 3rd Dawn that (my) Steve dated, as well. And then there's dad who married 2 Elaines! It is fascinating. I wonder what it all means? I'll have to add that to my list of things to ask God when I die!

  2. I knew he was your 3rd Steve, but I had no idea you were his 3rd Dawn! What an amazing ... coincidence? I guess both your 3rd tries were the charm! :-)