Just a date, you would say. For anyone else, you would be right. Except for me. May 24, 1984, at 3:14 am Pacific Time to be exact. My world changed forever. You see, that early morning, nearly 30 years ago from the time I am typing this, Ryan Alan Shipley joined this world we live in. 4 pounds, 4 ounces, 17 inches tall, red headed. With a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and a chromosomal abnormality that it would take 12 years to find. By the time he was 3 hours old, he had already died once. In the intervening 30 years, he would die 4 more times – and come back stronger and more stubborn each time. 67 back surgeries, 19 sets of PE (ear) tubes, 5 cleft lip and palate surgeries, 2 dental surgeries, one kidney infection, a bout with an intestinal parasite – nothing has stopped my man. Feeding problems from day one. A trip through the world of foster care (before it became evident that it was more than just an inexperienced first time mom). He has met every day with a smile, a giggle. Granted, nowadays there are some cries of pain, when the arthritis gets bad. But he still has the greatest outlook of anyone I have ever known. He never meets a stranger, still tries to show anyone who will pay attention the arm where the infection was 17 years ago (and usually shows the wrong arm). He has become a big brother twice – once just 15 months after he was born, when his sister joined us, and again when he was 9 and a half, when his younger brother made us a family of 5 (I can’t say little brother with a straight face, since he is 6’6″ to Ryan’s 4’8″). He still doesn’t speak, yet he communicates well. He hasn’t ever managed potty training. He lives on ensure – so there will be no steak dinner for this milestone. However, for all that he cannot do, I think I can honestly say that he has profoundly impacted every person he has ever come in contact with, even if only for a little while. He has changed my life – changed me. Even with all the troubles, all the sleepless nights, all the tears and worries – I am a better woman, a better wife, a better mom because of him. I was told within just a few hours of his birth to plan on his funeral within 6 months. So here we are, my son, proving “them” wrong yet again.
You see, May 24, 1984 was a beginning to a continuing journey. For May 24, 2014 is a milestone. My son, who should never have lived to see his first birthday, who has been through things that would have knocked most people not only to their knees, but flat on their face, turns 30. Yep – 30 years. So this blog has but one purpose – Happy 30th birthday, Ryan. You are now, and will always be, my superman. I love you, Mom.