Birthday Reflections

Birthday cupcake small

Birthday cake, smiles and hugs.

For you, it has literally been a lifetime. For me, it seems like only yesterday. Time can be funny like that. It's all so relative.

Thirty-three years ago we were just getting started as a family. Your mother and you had been hanging out together for about nine months and would go through some stressful times during an afternoon of labor pains, Lamaze breathing, and all the drama that came along with your entry into our world. Nothing has been the same since.

Happy birthday Ryan. 

Today you are thirty-three years old. No, it's not one of those milestone birthdays that people typically celebrate with special fanfare. Those seem to take place during years that are divisible by five (except, of course for the years of sixteen and twenty one).

But it's your birthday and unfortunately we are getting way to used to the fact that we aren't able to be together to share the traditions of birthday cake, ice cream, smiles and hugs. Instead, we mail the gifts and cards, make the phone calls, and another year ticks by. Yes, the years go by so fast. Take my word for it son – it won’t be long before you are looking back on a lifetime of memories with your own children. Make every opportunity count!

I thought a lot about you today and the relationship that we have built over the years. I thought about the times that I wasn’t there for you, but also remembered the many times it was just the two of us enjoying a few hours of catch or attending a ballgame.

I let my mind follow the memories back to that old-school delivery room where you were born. You came along at a time when hospital operating rooms, sterile drapes, and excited relatives pacing in a distant waiting room were still the norm. There would be none of the more modern birthing suites that existed when your brothers and sister were born for you. Those were still a couple years away.

Baby Ryan

What a wonderful day your birthday was. If I remember right it was the opening day of fishing season and some of the hospital staff joked with us about catching the big one. The NBA playoffs were in full swing and our Seattle Sonics were competing, but falling one game short, of an NBA championship. You really knew when to make your entrance.

At the time, looking thirty years into the future seemed like forever. Now, looking back, the same amount of time seems to have sped by so quickly. So many life events have taken place during those years. There are plenty of memories and situations that I would love to be able to declare a "do-over" – but those are few and far between in life. Instead, there have been many lessons learned along the way. A few regrets. Some surprises. And chances to move forward after recognizing a better path to follow.

Ryan and DavidWe left the hospital and took you to our small but comfortable home in Snohomish where your life journey began. Along the way, we moved you through seven homes in three states in only 18 years. That is probably one of my biggest regrets. Time and time again we left our familiar surroundings and friends, and you never complained. You found ways to be resilient, confident and outgoing. Our travels, always due to career choices of mine, cost you valuable time that most boys have building lifelong friendships and important relationships with cousins, aunts and uncles.

On the other hand, our move to Utah was life changing for you. You fell in love with that cute girl in your high school class and went back there to marry her and raise your own family after graduating from college. You stepped into important decisions that would add new definition to who you are. You showed me courage and consideration as you made those difficult decisions. Some were hard for me to hear. But all of them made me increasingly proud of the man you had become.

Ryan's family small

And now, you've made that trip to the hospital to deliver three children of your own. The circle of life continues.

These are just a few of the many memories that we've shared over the years. From little league, cub scouts, and Disney vacations, to Rose Bowl trips, playoff games and family outings to the lake. But for me – what I count among the best of all the times we've had – has to be the many conversations. It has been the times when we were just sharing, planning, laughing, and enjoying our time together. Time is such a wonderful gift. So hard to come by - and so hard to give away.

Happy birthday Ryan.

Ryan and Dad - Med

You were there when I became a dad for the very first time. And you've been an incredible son and friend every step of the way since. I love you and am proud to be your dad!

One of the only pictures we have (and very faded) of you and your Grandpa Brooks