You were the reason that God first spoke to me. You were the first person that I ever had to wait so long to see. You were a much expected and longed for person. In the selfishness of my childhood, you are the first person that I ever looked after besides myself.
The first time I held you, you with your red face and shock of dark hair, my heart grew. Jessica and I spent hours when you were a baby, trying to make you smile, trying to make you laugh. You were the Sun of our galaxy, our pride and joy. We looked out for you and up to you like we had no other. Your attention was the greatest prize in our young lives. You made Mom smile almost as much as Dad.
When you became able to talk and understand, you turned to the Lord and your first act was to lead others to him. It was your youthful example and words that I have used to lead others to him.
The hours that we spent playing together - imagining ourselves to be great people, good people, brave people, heroic people, inventive people - those hours made a hunger grow in me to actually become someone great, good, brave, heroic, and inventive.
When you started school I worried over your grades more than mine. I hoped that you would have good friends more than I worried that I didn't. Every step that you took after me made me hold my breath because I knew how hard that step was because I'd just taken it myself. Even things like learning to swallow your vitamins whole concerned me.
Nothing made me angrier, not even Jessica (although I fought with her more often), than lacks of character on your part. When I was a child I saw you as part of me, and when you didn't measure up, those rare times, I was furious with you. I think that dad and I had that in common when it came to you. You bore our projections as a child, and I think that made your way more difficult at times. But here you are.
In high school, you started to become, not just my echo, but your own self. Picking and choosing things that were different from me and new to me. You were the first Barber kid who wasn't a nerd in high school - or was at least a cool one. I marveled at your social ability. ;D
When I helped you move out of Mom and Dad's, going through your room was a pleasure. The things that you've collected through the years - your "junk" - were bits and pieces of life. Things that you've lived. Songs that you've sung. Drawings and poems and weapons that you've made. I loved seeing so many parts of you. The younger parts that I knew so well, and the older parts that I was pleased to see you came up with all on your own.
You were the reason that I resisted temptation in a lot of things. You were the reason, (well, you and Dad) - in my vilest temper with men - that I knew not all men were evil. Your patience and thoughtfulness through the years have taught me in ways that I never taught you. Even though you're younger, I look up to you in a lot of things. And here you are, on the first step of adulthood, with a good woman who you've found to marry.
No more drooling kisses and toothless grin. No more two-year-old curls. No more monsters, bad guys, or wars to fight in the back yard. But still plenty of silliness at the dinner table. More than enough competitive choke each other out fights. Absolute bounties of songs sung horribly off-key on purpose. Tons of raised eyebrow looks. Depths of thoughtfulness, patience, and just a touch of fool-hardiness. You are a man, but all that you were goldenly echoes through your personality.
I'm proud of you. I love you deeply. And I can't wait to celebrate this day with you!
Here's to you! Cheers!