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The Love That Let Us Share Our Name


The Love That Let Us Share Our Name

Thomas Whitley

If I were a better Presbyterian I would say that me getting a PhD where I basically just studied names and naming was predestined. After all, by the time I was 18 I was on my third last name.

I knew the third time would be the charm because I chose it. My first last name had been given to me when I was born, the second when I was adopted. But the third was mine to choose.

Though it wasn't really a choice. There were no competing options. There was no spray of hats on the table in front of me. There was no suspense. I had been waiting for years to make legal what had long been real. I was my father's son and I would have the name to match.

It has been 6 months since my dad died unexpectedly. I've thought a lot about what he taught me about style, decency, and love - I'm sure I'll write about these in the future. But what I cannot shake - what I do not want to shake - is the name we shared and what that name represents.

You see, my dad had already raised a son when he decided taking on me and my sister (5 and 7) was worth it to spend the rest of his life with my mother. He chose us and he loved us in a way I can only hope other dads love their children. He and my mom taught us that biology does not a family make; for that you need love.

This is the lens through which I have always heard the closing lines of The Avett Brothers' "Murder in the City."

Always remember, there was nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name

Blood is thick. Love is thicker still.