happy birthday, you goober.

This little goober turns 19 today, and it's the first birthday of his life where I won't be able to talk to him. But he deserves to be recognized, because Devin is one amazing little brother, the best of the best, and he's doing some great work on his mission in Tokyo.

I was 5 and a half when Devin was born, and I remember that night clearly. It took a bit of difficulty getting Devin here, and my mom was in the hospital for quite a while before he arrived. In fact, I blame Devin for my traumatizing first day of Kindergarten. Since my mom was in the hospital for most of September, she missed getting me ready for my very first day of school, which meant that my dad had to do my hair. Which meant that I was teased relentlessly that day for having some sort of weird ponytail/braid hybrid going on. Because at 5, you are fully aware of how you look, and you are fully aware that there will be boys in your class that you need to impress. ;) And I'm pretty sure that after that day my dad gave up and slapped a baseball hat on my head for the rest of the month until my mom could take over again.

When Devin was born, he was teeny-tiny. Four pounds is not very big, and that was Devin. Small and helpless, but even then with such a big heart. I remember feeling instantly protective of him once I saw how small he was. I wasn't going to let anyone hurt this little guy, or break that big heart, or cause him any kind of pain. And I'd like to hope that in the last 19 years, I've done that job.

Devin is one of those who, from birth, defies odds. We were told that, because he was so small at birth, and because he had a few health problems before he was delivered, he'd probably be a little slow, a little less active than other kids his age, a little bit smaller. But Devin fought those and turned out to be bright, intelligent, and athletic. He is a quick learner, he isn't afraid to try new challenges, and he can whip anyone on the tennis court or a snowboard or a wakeboard. And get him a piano or a guitar and if you are a teenage girl, I can promise that you will swoon.

Devin is a smiler. He always smiles. When we would make him mad, we'd tease him by saying, "Don't smile, Devin, don't do it..." and eventually he would give up his will to look and act angry and burst into a big ol' grin. In fact, his mission nickname is "Smiley Chorro," or "Elder Smiley." That smile lets people warm up to him pretty quickly, and I can tell you from experience that it's always genuine.  

Devin has a sensitive soul. He empathizes with people, and I believe that's a gift that is only given to a special few. Maybe that comes from being the youngest child and knowing how it feels to be pushed around a little bit {sorry, Dev!}, or maybe it just comes from being special. But wherever it comes from, it's something that I admire about him. When you hurt, you know he's hurting right along with you. I missed most of Devin's important, formative teenage years because I was away at college, but whenever I'd call home and ask how his life was going on {because being 14 has a lot of drama, right?}, he'd instead ask how my rough days were going, and if I cried I could somehow feel him understanding {because being 19 also has a lot of drama, amirite?}.

Devin is a goofball, in the best sense of the word. He's the entertainer, the one who isn't afraid to look like a fool for the sake of cheering people up. I have so many memories of him dancing around the house like a monkey to get a few laughs.

What else about Devin? Oh yeah, Devin's first word was "Sega," as in the video game console. Do you remember those? Every time we turned Sonic the Hedgehog on, a voice would sing, "Seeegaaaa," and Devin picked it up. I'm sure my mom was embarrassed to know that her kid's first word was about video games because her other kids played them too much. But.

Devin also had this mega man crush on Justin Timberlake, back in the N'Sync days. Like, he thought JT was the guy. He would watch N'Sync music videos and learn all the dance moves. I was so proud that my five year old brother favored N'Sync over the Backstreet Boys, because I was a firm supporter of Justin, JC, Lance, Chris, and Joey.

Didn't he turn out to be such a good-looking guy? He's a class act, this one. Devin, I miss you more than you know, I love you more than you think, and I can't wait to see what your two years in Japan will teach you. In the three months that you've been out, I've already seen you grow up, mature, and see what's important. I've seen you care about people and their happiness, and I know there are so many people who will be indebted to you for changing their lives for the better. I know I'm one of them. 

Happy birthday, kid!

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