I’m writing later than usual this morning. Having hit snooze on my alarm several times, I found myself in line at Newark Airport, waiting for what seemed forever to clear security.
That airport seems to be my nemesis. This is the second time in a row that I’ve been made famous their. “Paging Kent Ayers, please report to your gate, your flight is about to leave.” Not the kind of fame I’ve ever wanted, particularly not today.
You see, today is a Big Big day. It’s Shaun’s tenth birthday! A huge one in my books. Huge because, at least from my memory, year ten was when life truly began to happen. The year when I felt like I suddenly was experiencing life as a young boy who could be trusted with responsibility. Allowed to express my personality more than when I was “just a kid.”
You can keep that teenager stuff. Being ten is where it’s at!
The day is starting with Shaun’s test for his next belt rank in taekwondo. Then a birthday party for classmates, friends and family. He’s going to have a big day, and though I couldn’t be there for it’s start, I’m determined to share as much of it with him as I can.
Then there is the second reason that today is a Big Big day. Amanda celebrates three years clean today. Three years of no drugs, no matter what. More importantly though, today marks three years of recovery for Amanda. I couldn’t be more proud of my wife. I’ve known here for the majority of this journey of her’s. I’ve been there through good times and bad, watching her handle both with class and dignity.
These three years have been so full of change and struggle. There have been so many opportunities for us to look at each other and say “if we can make it through this, I guess we can make through anything.”
We continue to face life’s “anything’s.” Challenges that seem to come one after the next. In Narcotics Anonymous, facing such challenges is referred to as living life on life’s terms. Well, life has had some tough terms for both of us, but we’ve come through them. Watching Amanda consistently do so has given me strength.
So, two big birthday celebrations today. Shaun is ten, and Amanda is three. As I sit here in St. Louis, waiting for my flight to Tulsa, it looks like I’ll be there for the big day! My gratitude is beyond compare.
Before writing, I had time to grab a cup of coffee from one of the shops here at the airport. When I thanked the lady, and asked her how her day was going, she suddenly smiled. She had apparently served many patrons already today who hadn’t taken time to be kind. Hadn’t taken time to notice her as a person. She looked at me with a big smile and thanked me, just for being kind. She said, “you are such a nice man.”
It reminded me of that moment when I first knew Amanda was someone special. It was our first date. We went to a deli for dinner. As we approached the counter, she looked at the young man and said “hey feller!” The kindness and enthusiasm in her greeting to this stranger struck me as unique, and beautiful. I thought surely they must be friends, but no. It’s just her way. I was hooked!
So, today, I write a message that is for Shaun, but that applies to me as well. That message, on this, his tenth birthday, is to just be kind.
When people let you down, be kind.
When people make you smile, be kind.
When life gets hard, and it surely will, be kind.
When life blesses you beyond your dreams, be kind.
When you see a stranger, someone who would be easy to ignore, be kind.
When you see a friend has fallen, be kind.
When your mom and I disappoint you, please be kind. We both love you more than you will ever know.
Happy Birthday Shaun. I’m coming home Buddy!
Together, we will…
Have a remarkable day!