Ryan Kenneth Zarlenga
12/7/87 - 2/23/93
On Ryan's 5th birthday December 7, 1992 we had our usual birthday dinner, he opened his gifts and afterwards we went to a tree farm and picked out our Christmas tree. During our time there, he shared with the owner that it was his birthday. Before we left, she handed him $5 and told him happy birthday. I can still see the excitement in his eyes as he thanked her and we left the tree farm. He talked about it the rest of the night, and we too were touched by her thoughtfulness in making his night so special.
Two months later, on February 23,1993, Ryan died suddenly from viral encephalytis from an unknown cause and our world was forever changed.
On Friday Ryan would be 25 years old, and I still remember his last birthday like it was yesterday, and while still broken and sad, I am also able to celebrate the time we did get to share with him, and by celebrating his life I choose to pay it forward on his birthday by paying $5 for the person behind me in the drive through of Starbucks, Dunkin donuts or even a local fast food chain. I like to go to several locations throughout the day, to brighten someone else's day and share Ryan's story and let his sweet memory live on.
So this week, why not pick a day to pay it forward, do something special for someone random... you never know what kind of memory it will leave...