We have been expecting you.
Not just your mom and dad,
But all of us,
The Spears Family.
Maybe this time it will be a girl.
Sometimes we shed tears when we discovered it was a boy instead.
Oh. Brother. Another.
Don’t think ill of us.
Don’t think us ungrateful.
It is a great gift to be a girl anticipated,
A girl longed for,
A girl prayed for,
A girl wanted.
So many girls around the world never know what it means to be wanted,
To be valued,
To be loved.
Throughout history, girls around the world have been considered “Secondly”
“If you want to dispossess a people,” the Palestinian poet says, “tell their story and start with ‘secondly’.”
Your story, Kensington, begins with “First.”
First, before we knew for sure if you were a girl,
the cherry tree your great-grandmother gifted your daddy
Bloomed brilliant pink
Then the tree bore its first fruit.
A miracle, your grandmother said.
Because it is not a fruit-bearing tree.
A sign, then, perhaps?
From the great-grandmother you will only ever know through story.
Hers, though, is not a story of “secondly” either.
Shelby was her daddy’s girl.
The first girl strong enough to take the teasing that five older brothers dished out,
The first girl to capture the eye of the soldier who married her,
The first girl to stand graveside and bury that soldier who loved her.
The first girl to gather her children and swear to all things holy that she would make a way for them.
The first, male or female, in her family to walk across the stage and collect that college diploma.
The first woman in her entire family to buy a brick-and-mortar home, all by her lonesome, with the money she earned all by herself.
She was the first to let all the rest of us know that you were on your way,
When the cherry tree bloomed pink.
Where ever you go in life, Kensington, people will ask you: Who are your people?
Tell them this:
Your people are kind.
Your people are strong.
Your people are funny.
Your people are loving.
Your people are devoted.
Your people are God-fearing.
Your people are willful.
Your people are imaginative.
Your people are singers.
Your people are teachers.
Your people are painters.
Your people are quilters.
Your people are givers.
Your people are fishermen and women.
Your people are poets.
Your people are storytellers
And whenever we tell your story, Kensington, we always begin by saying, “She was the first in our family…”
Because you have been first in our hearts for a very long time.
Like the great-grandmother before you
You are the girl we have all been longing for.
We look forward to seeing the glory of God lived out in your life.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of the forthcoming Burdy, Mercer University Press.