And... here it is:
Happy Birthday, Ryan!!
While I can't put it as eloquently as Steanso, I would also like to wish the League a most happy birthday. Ryan and I met nearly 15 years ago while I was attending Trinity U (also Steanso's alma matter). We did not start dating until some 2+ years later, but each of the few times we met during those pre-dating years I knew there was something special about him. There was a fascinating mixture of mischief and kindness in his eyes that made him memorable.
Thankfully the stars alligned our junior year and we've been together ever since. He proved his worth early on when, already aware of my kidney problems when we started dating, he spent a whole weekend in my hospital room when I was frighteningly (and not attractively) ill. This devotion has continued throughout our relationship, and I cannot count the number of times Ryan has dropped everything to care for me. Visions of him slumped in an ER room chair exhaustedly attempting sleep at 3:00 am come to mind. He has been my advocate and comforter in tough times.
Our rough patches were not all medical, and we had a difficult four years living in Arizona. Finding it hard to meet people there, we were forced to rely solely on each other for company (sorry Mel, Jeff, but you do not talk last I checked). Ryan kept us sane with his good nature and humor. We were able to joke with each other about our situation, which made it tolerable.
It may seem as if I am highlighting the low points of our relationship, but I am writing under the assumption that everyone out there knows of Ryan in some capacity, even if just through his writing. I find it more telling of a person's character how they react in challenging circumstances and thought some of you may not be as familiar with this side of Ryan.
So thank you Ryan, for being my champion, my entertainer, my psychologist and best friend. I love you more than I can express in this short tribute and hope you have the happiest of birthdays.