I've wanted to write this column for a while.
So many things have happened over the last few months, in relation to the baby my wife and I recently welcomed into the world. As I've mentioned before, we have been tremendously blessed by so many people in our lives -- people who have been bursting with excitement over this child.
One group of people, in particular, who have displayed such amazing support and encouragement, are the people who may very well be reading this column. So many people with whom I have come in contact in Henry County, have blown me away with their concern and well-wishes.
I never expected this to happen. Although I have definitely developed lasting friendships with people in Henry over the last four years I've been at the newspaper, it never occurred to me that readers might actually take an interest in what happens in my personal life.
Even people whom I know on a strictly professional level, have overflowed with excitement ever since we found out about the baby in June. On an almost daily basis during my wife's pregnancy, people were asking me how she was doing, and were looking forward to my daughter's arrival.
I received so many e-mails, including some from complete strangers, congratulating me on joining the ranks of fatherhood.
It seemed like the baby was developing a fan club in Henry, before she even got out of the womb.
After my wife had our little girl, I went on vacation for a week. When I returned to work, it seems as if the news of her birth had traveled all the way around Henry County. People were so excited for us, and couldn't wait to see pictures of the baby.
It meant the world to me, and always will.
I suppose I've had something to do with people being interested in the baby's progress. After all, the majority of my columns in recent months have been about my little miracle.
Still, I deeply appreciate the willingness of readers in Henry, to open their arms up to my baby, even if some of those readers never meet her.
No matter what else happens in my life, or where my career might take me, I will never forget what I have experienced from the people in Henry during these last few months. I hope I can convey to my little girl, as she grows older, how much love and support she had in the area before she was even born.
I guess what I'm trying to say to readers of this column, and to the people of Henry County, is "thank you." I am utterly filled with gratitude for my friends and colleagues in the area, who have renewed my appreciation for the community. I hope my daughter will one day be able to develop that same appreciation for the county herself.
Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.