Certain moments in time are chiseled into our mind... things someone can do...words someone says...
And at Ryan’s funeral, a highly respected family friend took Zach into his arms and said “when I grow up I want to be half the man you are today”. Those powerful words will stay with Zach and me for a lifetime.
They cycle in my head now... as Zach is graduating tomorrow.
I can barely say those words without feeling a chill.
Weren’t we just here?
Wasn’t it just 5th grade?
Where has life taken me? My family?? 5th grade to 8th grade. Literally beyond comprehension. Beyond words.
But I look at Zach and I see... deeper than his obsession with Fortnight, more grounded than his preoccupation with sneakers. I see what has been created these past 14 years...what lies in his heart.
Growing up as Ryan’s little brother shaped Zach in infinite ways. Zach wasn’t told to be tolerant of differences... he grew up side by side with them and didn’t even know it. He wasn’t told to be patient... he just learned that by living with and watching Ryan. Because of Ryan, Zach learned to love animals and Disney and Nana & Grandpa and especially dogs. Zach’s first language was sign language... his first sign was “dance” because Ryan was always dancing and he was always following him. In many ways, the two of them grew up side by side...Ryan was delayed in a lot of motor skills and Zach was advanced, Ryan was slower to grow and Zach... well... wasn’t.
And while we never once made Zach feel responsible for Ryan, you knew no one would ever mess with Ryan. Zach had his “blind side” just as instinctively as Big Mike.
It’s impossible to imagine Ryan not being here to rub Zach’s head before school tomorrow, not doing his special “bro handshake and dab” that Ryan loved... it’s impossible to imagine life through Zach’s lens...
But in my heart I know Zach will go to great heights... carrying with him some incredibly powerful energy from those physically with him and those he carries within...