Seventeen

Just a few short weeks ago I opened my email to find a picture of you.  But you weren’t alone.  And you weren’t looking as grown up as you have looked in your past few pictures.  Infact, you didn’t look a day over six.  And there, beside you, was the devil himself – with his arms.  Around you.  Maybe I am exaggerating, but not by much.  The truth is – you are growing up faster than I can keep up with.  One day you were six, and the next your turning seventeen and I don’t know how that’s even remotely considered fair.

Seventeen.

It sounds so old, so grown up, so mature, yet strangely – so…you.

You are branching off into things that I don’t even know what mean.  Colleges, boyfriends, scholarships, awards – your future.  Its bright.  So bright.  And while I know you know that, I still worry that you don’t see your full potential.  That you will get caught up in the things that are coming your way, and forget, momentarily.

In a way, I want to remind you of all the things you said when you were younger.  Especially that part about boys being “Yucky.”  Because I liked that phrase.  I really was hoping you wouldn’t lose that.  But I guess, you too, must find your way to the next stage in your life.  I don’t know if ‘he’ will be in the picture next year, or even tomorrow.  I don’t know where your life will take you, or how you will take life.

I do know, however, that whatever you do choose – you wont settle for less.  Which is what allows me to sleep at night, knowing that no matter how far you are, no matter who has their arms around you – you have a good head on your shoulders.  Just don’t forget that.

You pushed your way though being a “Kid” you dealt with the “Childish” things, and brazed your way to where you are today.  While a lot of kids (and grown ups) struggle with being the age they are, you have always embraced it, and worn it well.

There are some people in this world – that make the world a better place for everyone.  They stop and help without thinking, they give without a second thought.  They make others smile and laugh, and never stop giving or trying.  They power through.  They might not finish first, but that’s because they stopped along the way to lend a hand to others.  They genuinely make the world a better place – without even trying.  They are an inspiration, a challenge to others to be more.  They are like rare jewels – always sought after, but rarely seen.

You, happen to be one of them.

I will probably always see you as a toothless six year old, or a grown up eight year old.  I will probably always cringe when I see someone else with their arm around you, and might not ever let you live it down that at one time in your life – matching socks were the most important thing to you.  But I will always be proud of you.  No matter where life takes you, no matter what paths you choose.

Don’t lose your sparkle.  Don’t stop being you.  Because the world without you – is a bleak and lonely place.  Don’t lose your fire, and what makes you, you.  Don’t ever settle for less.

Happy Birthday Kiddo,

- Your Uncle

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