Ryan looks very tired in this picture because he is. He's got major changes coming in the next week. Ryan went to college, went to law school. Now, he is joining JAG and will be a military lawyer. Yesterday, I took some time to sit and talk to Ryan. It's so easy, when you know you will see family at the next holiday or gathering, to forget to really stay connected... to really know what they are like.
Ryan became part of our family when he was 3 years old and his mom married my uncle (my mom's little brother). I remember going out to California and spending time with them a couple of summers and having a ton of fun with Ryan and his older brother, Jason (who just recently became a dad, by the way). They had a pool and 2 dogs (black labs) and we would swim and play outside and play with the dogs.
Ryan and his family moved to Ohio many years ago and became part of our regular gatherings. It's how we got to know each other and kind of grow up together (even though he's about 8 years younger than me). Ryan's parents and brother moved back to California a few years ago and Ryan opted to stay in Ohio, finish law school, and then see where life would lead him.
Ryan shared with me that he originally wanted to be a lawyer for... the money. But, as he's gone through school and life, he's come to realize that fancy, expensive things aren't what life is all about. He's come to realize that being a lawyer doesn't make you any better than anyone else- but it does offer you fantastic opportunities to help others. He became interested in JAG as he learned more about wha tmilitary officers really do- helping a military mom get child support or financial assistance, helping military families keep their legal affairs in order, work in prosecution or defense in military court.
I think that change in focus is called maturity.
Ryan intends for JAG to be his career. It's what he intends to retire from. Which means he won't be settling down in Cincinnati or Indianapolis or anywhere else near family. He will be moving every 2-3 years and will end up stationed in all kinds of places.
I'm going to miss him. My mom is going to miss him. We're all going to miss having him at family dinners and gatherings because he's a part of this family. I'll miss his smile and his stories and his intelligent conversation and, most of all, his hugs.