Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dear Recipient, Happy Birthday

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. Voltaire

Today, June 16th, would have been Peyton's 16th birthday.  Although he is no longer with us, he still lives on in the memories of those that love him, as well as through the efforts of the #PeytonHeartProject and #KindnessMatters to educate others about suicide awareness, mental health issues, and the dangers of bullying.  I also decided to contact those out there that Peyton continues to live on in through the gift of life.  This letter will be sent to each of his recipients.
Dear Recipient,

I hope that this letter finds you in good health and good spirits.  I also wanted to wish you, or at least a small part of you, a happy birthday.  Peyton would have been 16 this month, and I was hoping you would celebrate with me.

If Peyton were here today, he would be 16 years old.  If you are a Texas resident, you know that means that he would want to make a visit to the local DPS office to make an examiner white knuckle their way through his driver's test.  If he were to pass, then he would want a car.  Like most teenage boys, his desires would run from a bitchin' Camaro to a size compensating truck.  Unfortunately for him, he with his parent's combined income, he would be lucky to get a ten year old KIA with a trash bag for a rear window, duct tape patching the seat cushions, and an AM radio with at least one speaker blown.

Perhaps he would want to decorate it with bumper stickers saying "My other ride is a Tardis", "Keep Calm I'm The Doctor", "Team Negan", or "Rick Grimes for Sheriff".  I have no doubt that the insides would smell like donuts and chicken nuggets, the upholstery would be stained with chocolate milk and melted ice cream, and the passenger side floor mats would be littered with gum wrappers, empty peanut M&M bags and water bottles.  He would use his knowledge of electronics to hook up his phone to the radio in order to listen to music, or more likely, some hands free texting.  There would be several jackets in the back seat as he was always cold, and could never remember where he had left them, and each of those jackets would be covered with dog and cat hair.  He might have even put a Texas A&M sticker on it because of his desire to be a vet, but my Longhorn blood would not allow that in my driveway, and it would be unceremoniously scraped off.

I am sure he would offer rides to all that asked.  That's the kind of person he was.  He would always go out of his way in order to help others, even though he would know it is illegal for a young driver to have too many passengers, he was too good of a friend to exclude others.  That car would make many trips to the movies.  I am sure the new Wonder Woman and up coming Spider Man: Homecoming would be draws for him.  He would travel to the local Best Buy and Game Stop to check to the latest in computers and video games. I know it would also require trips to the library to check out books to quench his thirst for knowledge and the escape that reading offered.

Unlike most sixteen year old boys, he would not shy away from a birthday dinner with his family, especially if it meant watching the chefs prepare the meal directly at the table, but he may put up a little fuss when the desert came, and he had to share it with his little sister.  He may want a shopping spree for a present, but no Abercrombie or Hollister for him.  He would prefer clothes from Hot Topic or even Target where the graphic t-shirts of vintage video games and sriacha labels would fit his quirky outlook on life.

One thing Peyton would not want on his birthday is for any one to mourn him or be sad.  He would want people to be happy and to celebrate his life.  He would want you to give change to the bell ringer at Christmas or fill the boot of the fireman at the intersection.  He would want you to stop in the hall and help a stranger pick up the books and papers that they just dropped, even though no one else stopped.  He would want you to adopt every stay dog and cat you see, and in return, he would lovingly let them cuddle in his bed or wake him up in the morning as they shower him with kisses.  He would want you to enjoy the day doing something you loved whether it is sitting on the couch playing video games, eating donuts, or watching Dr. Who.  He would want you to tell bad jokes and laugh at them, or roll your eyes at my Dad jokes.  He would not want you to be sad that he is no longer with us, but for you to enjoy the chance that you have been given.

Recipients, today and every day,  are chances to live life to the fullest.  Pet a dog, blast away aliens, eat donuts, sit on the edge of your seat and see if Rick and Darrell can save the day, or just curl up with a cat on your lap and a book in your hands.  It is what I want, and I know it is what Peyton would want.  Take care of yourselves, and know that I pray for you every day, and that Peyton and I wish you nothing but the best.

Best Wishes,
David, Peyton's Daddy

Author's Note:  For all of you who read this, I want you to embody the same spirit as Peyton.  Go out today and smile at a stranger, hold a door for some one, or perform some random act of kindness, as it costs nothing to be a decent human being.  Most of all, consider becoming an organ donor so that you are able to live on and give some one a shot at life. Outlive yourself.