Today is a special day, one I look forward to celebrating every year. Today is Jared’s birthday.
This year, I scoured the Internet for the least expensive and yet not totally crappy version of an iPad I could find. I ended up with a used first generation with 32 G of storage – one for each year. I was so excited about it that I gave it to him four days early. I promised him he didn’t have to share with me and have, thus far, kept my word (though I admit it’s killing me just a tiny bit.) The gift is a bit extravagant for us, but he is so, so worth it.
I talk quite a bit about what a good husband Jared is. I tell him often that I’m grateful for how much and how well he loves me.
But that’s not why I look forward to spoiling him a little each year.
It’s because he is – all on his own, with no familial attachments to me – a really, really cool person.
You should know him.
He is, no kidding, one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He is kind in practice, not just in theory or mood. If he doesn’t have anything nice to say, he says nothing. Even when people have wronged him, he resists the urge to be unkind.
He gives of his time and his labor without a second thought. I am constantly volunteering him to help people with some project or another, but the truth is that he happily takes on the tasks. He doesn’t help because he should or because he worries he owes anyone anything – he just does it because it is innate to provide assistance where it is needed.
Anyone who has ever met him will tell you Jared is sweet, funny and easy to get along with. He is 32 years old today and I have known him for roughly 20 of those years – and he has been all of those things forever. They are, at first glance, what defines him.
But in recent years, Jared has grown to be so much more than nice.
He has learned to be brave.
He has learned to be vulnerable.
He has learned to take risks.
He has learned to say, No.
He has learned to cook Mexican, Indian and Low Country.
And he has, somehow, learned all of that on his own.
I spent a lot of years trying to teach Jared stuff. I was pretty sure that he could benefit from my infinite wisdom and vast self help library. If he would just listen to me, I assumed, he could change into someone more and better than who he was on his own.
Let’s take a moment to roll our eyes together.
As it turns out, Jared didn’t need me. He needed time, someone to trust him, and a little space to figure stuff out on his own. He didn’t need to change; he has only learned more about who he has always been. He hasn’t grown; he has blossomed. And he is only 32.
I hope, for all our sake’s, we get to celebrate a lot more birthdays with Jared.
The world is better for having him in it.