On your 23rd birthday I wanted to tell you a few things I haven’t told you yet. I think I’ve said most of these things, but not nearly enough. A few of these things I don’t think I ever did, and should have. I don’t know exactly where to start, but here goes.
You are a resilient man. I stand in awe of the obstacles you face and overcome each day. Getting out of bed takes you more effort and energy than most Americans exert in the course of an average day. I have, while you weren’t looking, watched you wrestle your shoes on feet that wouldn’t cooperate and legs that laid there like logs. Humbling is not a strong enough word. And let’s not even mention the hills: superhuman feats of strength getting up the driveway and Evil Kneivel trips down it.
You are insatiably curious. You’re always wondering, always asking, always soaking the world in. That’s why I call you Quiz Show. Anybody who’s shared a meal with you or even just a cup of coffee knows what I mean. Buddy, most of the world loses their curiosity somewhere around seven years old. Don’t ever lose yours. It’s one of your super powers.
You're courageous. From Cub Scouts, to Camp Casey to the CMN Dance Marathon you have put yourself out in ways that amaze me. Your sisters even see it. You’ve jumped into things that even they’ve been shy to do. It takes courage to risk out and try Broadway Bound when you’re bound to a wheelchair, but you did it. I’ve got the program and the pictures to prove it. I think you’re the bravest person I’ve ever met.
You’re a force of nature. You fill every room you enter. You lift every spirit you encounter. There’s not a person you’ve met that doesn’t have a Griffin story that they hold dear in their heart, that they have held onto in a difficult moment and it lightened their load. I could tell a hundred stories, like when my MBA teammate Jamie asked you what you’d been up to and you replied, “nothing the police need to know about.” Or when you were selling candy bars for the Jr. Sonics and one of my AEs said no thanks you said, “you know who my dad is, right?” You bring a smile to my face, and that’s saying a lot, bud.
The thing I don’t think I’ve ever told, though, is this. You’ve changed my life. I’m a bit of an asshole, as you and the whole world know. But raising you has made me just a little more compassionate, just a little more patient, just a little more humble and a lot more of who God created me. Not from anything you did, and there’s plenty. But just because of who you are. Because of all the things you couldn’t help but be because God stamped one part of his Infinite Soul in the shape that is Griffin. A shape that is fearfully and wonderfully made and perfect in all its imperfections. And that, Griffin, has changed me forever.
I love you, buddy. Happy Birthday.