Karen … Katrina … Korenna? My name has been said and spelled many different ways. From leaving out a letter to adding a letter, I know when my name is being called when the teacher starts to sound it out. I have always thought of my name as complicated.
I would always ask my parents why they didn’t give me a simple name that I could find on a cute cup or a soda can, and in reply they would say, “You can customize anything these days.”
My parents always told me that my first name was created from my grandma, Karen, and my great aunt, Marena. It is pronounced liked Marena but spelt like Karen with an “a” at the end.
Because of this, I thought that my name was unique and one-of-a-kind, until I met people with my name. They spelled it differently, which explained why people who attempted to spell my name would put an “i” instead of an “e.”
After realizing this, I thought even less of my name. Not only was my name hard to find, but now I come to find out it isn’t even unique … or at least, that’s what I thought until one of the people from whom I got my name from was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, along with 66,330 other people in Illinois, according to the American Cancer Society. She got this diagnosis while I was finishing my senior year of high school.
My aunt Marena had always been a huge part of my life. She would watch my siblings and I when my parents were gone and showed up to all of our school events.
I remember the countless times we would go to Dollar Tree and she would give us $5 to spend, and we would leave with a sack full of candy and toys that wouldn’t even last the car ride home.
When cancer, dialysis, diabetes, kidney and liver failure slowed her down, she kept fighting. She still listened to everything I had to say. My aunt pushed past 6 months and was able to see me graduate from high school. She watched me start college and even get through my first semester.
My aunt lost her battle on Feb. 9, 2019.
My parents had never heard of someone with the same name as me until after I was born. They gave me my name so I would be unique. My name represents my aunt who fought against all odds, who cared for everyone else even when she was hurting the most.
I love my name because of who I get to represent with it.
Karena Ozier is a freshman elementary education major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]