I have been fortunate to earn several cool titles in my life, but eight years ago my son Everett gave me the best job in the world and the title for which I am most proud to have obtained—“Dad”. Everett joined the world at 4:45a, which was a harbinger for his unrelenting desire to tackle the day (tired dad be damned). His arrival gave my life a meaning that it had been missing, and I have walked around with my heart outside of my own body every day since.
As it was last year, COVID-19 has continued to rob Everett of many experiences. However, I also like to think it has provided us an opportunity to create new experiences that may not have been a thought in the absence of this pandemic. We have taken the occasion to go camping, find new hiking spots, take road trips if even just to look at leaves, make art, build LEGO, and make lasting memories in unique ways. While I certainly had a deep sense of worry, I am so happy that my son was able to return to in-person instruction at school (like his father, he hates virtual days). He regained a part of himself that had been taken the year prior and I am so glad to see him continue to blossom.
Everett is academically talented. He is proficient in math, has taken an interest in visual coding, and is a voracious reader. He will also recite facts until your ears fall off. However, no matter how many times I hear “Daddy, can I tell you something?”, I always look forward to seeing his enthusiasm when he shares some new tidbit of knowledge. Everett’s excitement in exploring his world helps stave off the cynicism that comes with the professionalization of things I once loved for their own sake. He makes me a better scientist even though he has no idea he is doing so.
I am also excited to see Everett’s development as a human. He is a genuinely good person—kind, empathetic, generous, and deferential to a fault. There is not a single situation in which he fails to consider how his interactions or choices will make other people feel. He is also a wonderful big brother to my younger son Campbell. While he likes to complain about the annoyances that come with a younger brother, I routinely catch him in quiet moments sharing his belongings and heart—offering access to his prized toys or to his brotherly comfort. He makes me a better person just by being himself.
As I wrote about for Campbell’s recent birthday, I was so happy to include Everett in other parts of my life involving my dear friends and loved ones this year. We had a cat-warming party, attended momentous birthdays, came to just-because get-togethers, picked out a Christmas tree, and a had a great New Year’s Eve with family. I was happy because Everett got to see me with the people I love, and they got to see him for the wonderful person he is and why I love him so dearly. As I said then, I feel like I finally understand what is important in life and what it means to live a life worth living.
I sometimes catch myself getting lost in photos from Everett’s younger years—thinking of times when I held his tiny hands, changed his diapers, bathed him, sang to him, or carried him on my shoulders. Even though I am sad about the cruelty inherent in the forward march of time, I am equally joyful at the thought of seeing what opportunities and successes Everett will seize from his life ahead. I can only hope that I am fortunate enough to share in as many of those years as possible.
Everett has been my “bud” for eight years and I am so incredibly proud to be his father. His love and goodness motivate me to serve him in this job that he gave me as best as I can so that someday down the road, after I am gone, Everett might reflect on our time together and feel proud that I was his dad. My main wish for Everett is that he believes in himself as much as I believe in him, and as much as I know he believes in me. How it ever happened that a flawed goober of a nerd should be granted the love of a son like Everett is beyond my comprehension. All I can do is love him back with the same ferocity.
And I do so love you, buddy.
Happy Birthday, Everett.