Today's Nerdy Book Club post by Ralph Fletcher, "Five Doors Into Memoir", inspired me to sit down and write the story of my name.
Before I was born, my mom was living in a neighboring (small) town. She was pregnant with her first baby, a girl, and was anxiously awaiting the baby's arrival. My mom found herself with plenty of alone time at this point in her young life, as my dad was an over the road truck driver. She sat and dreamed of the new baby and how much she loved this little bundle, even before laying eyes on her.
My mom wanted to name the baby Jacqueline. She was unsure of a middle name. She thought Jacqueline was just girly enough and had an air of the exotic. It would be a unique name for her special little girl.
My mom was one of many young moms in the area. A couple of months before I was born, a lady down the road had a beautiful baby girl and named her Jacqueline Grace.
In an instant, the uniqueness of Jacqueline vanished, and my mom was back to dreaming about what name would best fit her new baby girl.
My mom liked the idea of an older name. She wanted something as special as she knew her baby girl was destined to be. She liked the idea of something that was feminine and innocent, but also strong and independent. She didn't necessarily like the idea of recycling family names, but did like the idea of Tollie after her paternal grandmother. One thing my mom was sure of was that she would not name her daughter Mary, her own first name shared with her mom. In addition, she would give the baby a name that would be the name her baby was called by. She went by her middle name, which caused confusion more often than not. She didn't want that for her little girl.
On September 1st, Emily Gayle was born in a small town hospital. She was sweet and precious and healthy and everyone was happy, as is the occasion with most births.
Soon after my birth, my family moved to my tiny hometown, where my mom could be very close to her own mother. Raising a newborn is not a job for a mom living as a single lady most of the time. That first house, which I don't remember living in, was just a half mile from my grandma and grandpa's house.
Two and a half months later, a baby girl, was born and named Emily Elizabeth. She was beautiful and had dark brown eyes and hair. She smiled all the time.
Emily was not the unique name my mom dreamed of, but it did bring together two girls who turned out to be lifelong best friends. We became known as Emily². We were name twins and cheerleaders and FFA teammates. We were practically inseparable. We grew up together, sharing most of our character-shaping experiences. We shared our name and so much more.
My name, Emily, made me who I am. Without my special name, my life would have been exceptionally different.