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The first night after he was born I drove home and couldn’t stop seeing his face in my mind. I went to sleep seeing that face. I woke up seeing that face. I drove back to the hospital still seeing that beautiful little face, just hoping it was still there and it hadn’t all been a dream.

17 years ago today our life was forever changed. That beautiful baby boy now towers over me, and I’m 6’1″. He is still growing up, figuratively and literally, even if he likes to think himself already grown. He’s making decisions for himself, trying on different identities, as we all do, and figuring out who he is. So far he’s pretty sure that he’s a giant nerd, just like his dad. Here’s hoping he doesn’t grow out of that.

Whoever he thinks he is, and whoever he thinks he wants to be, his mother and I already know this about him: he is a good son, a good big brother, and an all around good person. That’s all anyone can ask of their kid. And we couldn’t be more proud.

When I close my eyes I still see that beautiful face that forever changed us. I also see the one year old that learned to walk by chasing a Mountain Dew bottle. I still see the kindergartner who “used up all my good at school”. I still see the kid who wouldn’t read until he discovered comic books, and then wouldn’t stop reading. And I still see the proud big brother that couldn’t stop smiling when he got a sister. And then a brother. And then another sister.

He still has that infectious smile (and those adorable dimples), even though he uses it more judiciously, and generally when he thinks we’re not looking. He still lights up our world, just like he did when he was first born. And every once in a while I still catch myself fearing that these last 17 years have all been a dream, because I don’t deserve for them to be a reality.

He was our first. He will always be that face that I see when I close my eyes. That, and so much more. He is the best son and the best big brother that parents and siblings could hope to have.

So happy birthday Josh. I can’t believe it’s been 17 years already. It seems like you were just born yesterday.