What’s In A Name

I am obsessive compulsive. I won’t share all of my oddities, but I have a thing about even numbers, light switches in the same position, and books in order of height to name a few. My sister and I have the same initials, and I think it’s safe to say that’s because my Mom is a little OCD as well. Really, if we all evaluate our habits and behaviors, there’s a little OCD in all of us.

When we were picking names, I was set on an H name. I grew up with a sister who had a V name, and wanted the same name-theme for my kids. I just liked the idea. Brent wasn’t so much a fan, but bless him, he went with it. I had a short list of boy names and girl names, and there was one name at the top of both, only varied in spelling, that my heart was hoping for.

There are three Fargo couples in particular who are very special to Brent and me. Two of them are like adopted parent-couples, and one couple is like our older brother and sister. Maybe I should say big brother and sister instead of older. You’re not “old”, guys.  These couples have as much adopted us as we’ve adopted them, and we’ve grown to love them like family. Plainly, we’d be lost without them.

One of our adopted parent-couples has been a strong emotional support for us. They’ve supported us as we’ve walked through some murky waters in our marriage, and in our spiritual walk.  They’ve encouraged us, and mentored us. They’ve even helped us with some nitty-gritty home repairs. They’ve prayed with us, for us, and because of us. They’ve loved us in spite of knowing us. Their last name is Harlan.

Yes, it’s an H name. It was at the top of my list for either boy or girl. Spelled like their last name if we had a son, and spelled “Harlynn” if we had another little girl. Not just an H name, but a name indicative of how special our little girl was, and how our lives had been influenced by a couple God had lovingly placed in our lives. Harlynn.  I told Mr. Harlan not to “get a big head” once he heard the name we decided on. I teased him a bit.  I don’t think he knew we decided to name our child after them.

Brent wasn’t 100% sold on the name at first, but it grew on him. I told him since he “agreed” to name our daughter Harlynn, he could pick whatever middle name he wanted. I was willing to relinquish the requirement of having an L middle name, so that she and her sister would have the same initials. He chose Renae.

My very best friend, my other half long before Brent came to be in my life, is Tiffani. She and I have been best friends since the 8th grade, and I know you won’t believe me when I say this, but that was 20 years ago. When I moved to Wyoming, I was in Tiff’s homeroom. We instantly hated each other. Yes, you read that right. She was unique in that she had a huge fro of naturally curly hair. Then I moved to town and guess what? I had a huge fro of naturally curly hair. I was infringing on her turf. I don’t really know if that’s why we hated each other or not. Who knows. I was the new girl, and nobody liked me. Especially Tiff.

One day I saw her crying. I didn’t like her, but more than that I didn’t like to see her cry. I wrote her a note and shoved it in her locker. I found a note shoved in my locker in reply. We communicated this way for weeks, never actually speaking to each other in person – just through notes. I don’t remember the first time we talked to each other. I don’t remember what we said. I just know that about the start of the second semester of 8th grade, we were becoming best friends.

Tiff is basically my brain in another body. We mostly think alike. We say things the same way. We share the same feelings on a lot of issues (and non-issues). Whatever I would do for her, she would do for me. We put each other in our place. We love each other with the tough love that only best friends could get away with. The day we came home from the hospital after losing Harlynn, she showed up on my doorstep. Unannounced. She drove over 700 miles to be there. I saw her walking up the driveway, I opened the door, I hugged her and I sobbed. I told her “If you had asked, I would have said ‘no’.” She said, “That’s why I didn’t ask.” She was there when I needed her, and I can’t love her enough for that. I hope everyone in their life has a best friend like Tiff.  Tiffani’s middle name is Renae.

Harlynn Renae. A name with purpose. A name with meaning. A name that is so very special for so many reasons.

I ache for the fact that no one will get to know Harlynn and who she would have been as a person. I ache because Mr. and Mrs. Harlan will never get to bounce her on their knee. Never get to have their picture taken with their little namesake. I ache that my best friend will never get to hold her pseudo-niece, or be enchanted by her little coos and giggles. Instead my best friend, her second namesake, has to hold me as I cry.

It isn’t fair. It isn’t.

Harlynn Renae is more than just a special name. She’s a special baby. She’s a special sister. She’s a special daughter. She’s a special light of our lives that we’ll always hold on to.

I thank God for the special people he’s surrounded us with in our lives. I thank him for giving us people we can lean on, now especially. We’d never survive without them. I thank God for my little Harlynn Renae. And I thank God for the people who helped us give her a name.

~ Tiff & Val ~

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