This morning my friend Caroline Overington texted me from LA:
“Did you know Oprah named her baby? This is huge. Such an important step.”
I was just getting out of the shower and I got water all over my phone in my frantic rush to text her back:
“Wait, what baby?!?!?!”
Oprah had a baby? She adopted a baby? But isn’t she here in Australia? How did I miss this?
A reply from Caroline:
“The baby she lost when she was a teenager”
Ohhhhhh. I knew Oprah had been pregnant as a teenager. Vaguely. I knew she didn’t have a child now. Had she adopted it out? No. She’d been raped as a teenager, fallen pregnant at 14 and given birth to a son prematurely. He died in hospital within a couple of weeks and the whole traumatic experience had become her shameful secret until she spoke about it a few years ago.
Naming him was something even more recent.
At the first live event of her current Australian tour last night, Oprah told the audience of 15,000 people, “I did an interview with a reporter before I came to Australia and she said you should name the baby son who died.”
“So I have named him, I had a little boy named Canaan. I did have a son. And I named him Canaan because Canaan means new land, new life.”
That reporter was Caroline, who interviewed Oprah for the Womens Weekly just a couple of months ago and gave her that piece of life-changing advice.
Caroline was just the right person to deliver this message. Caroline’s daughter Katie was stillborn almost 20 years ago. I know Katie’s name because her mum has told me about her. An author of a dozen best-selling books, Caroline often dedicates them to Katie and I once commented to her how lovely that was. “I do it so people ask me, ‘Who is Katie’ and then I get to talk about her.”