Early Monday, my niece Everley was born. This is to her, once she can read. Welcome to our world, Everley. You burst onto the scene early in the morning, a long time coming. And when you showed up, wet, screaming, cold, and needy, you were loved in the blink of an eye, in the time it takes for a father and mother to see you writhing and wanting nothing more than to go to you, to cradle you, and to never let go.
Your journey has only begun and from the onset I just have one reminder: you will never travel alone.
The next few years will be spent by the side of your mom and dad. As often as you want or need, PawPaw and LaLa will come running. Aunt Moo will be there. Me, Aunt Netty, and Cousin Lindley will also be there. You'll start to make friends at school or church or the zoo. You'll get cards on your birthday and emails from family, no matter where they are.
Pride's temptation will be to tell you that you can do it all by yourself. Ignore him when he whispers that in your ear. Assert your independence and don't do anything not in line with your values, even if it means going against the crowd. But please understand that in these trying times you do not stand all by yourself.
You will surely have dark nights of the soul. But, when you need it most, community will come running and it always brings with it the dawn.
Family will always remind you that sunsets are never eternal. Soon enough, sitting in the darkness holding a familiar hand, you will recognize the sun rising over the valley of shadows.
We will laugh a lot together. We'll probably cry some, too. We'll get angry at each other and pick at each other. We'll - all of us - eat cookie dough with spoons and watch Disney movies and drive to Mississippi and lose things in couch cushions. And each experience will be forever marked in our hearts not because of what happened but because of who it happened with.
You are here now. And so are we. Together.