How does one measure a life?
Is it the number of birthdays that we achieve?
Is it the money in our bank account?
Is it the style of our clothes?
If those are the measures of a life, then my dear husband might not have made much of a splash. His time here on earth was short. Today would have been only his 28th birthday, and despite the unbelievably brave effort that he put into fighting cancer (countless rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, theraspheres, surgery, naturopathy, vegan diet! - I wonder if he has yet forgiven me for that?), he did not achieve a long life. Today that fact is weighing heavily on his family's hearts.
Money in the bank account? We shared joint accounts. I can attest to the fact that he and I were very much an unremarkable, middle-class family in that regard.
Style of our clothes? I really shouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole since beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and our opinions on clothing differed greatly), but Ryan's cowboy style probably wouldn't have earned him any style points with the fashion police. I'll leave it at that. :)
If we measure a life, what is the standard? I propose this:
What do you do to impact the world around you?
In only ten thousand, two hundred seventy-four days (the number of days that he lived), Ryan Prudhomme changed the world. No, he wasn't a world leader. He didn't have an impact on politics, government, or policy. But for hundreds and even thousands of people, Ryan caused them to stop and think about their faith, their priorities, their families, and their passions. He challenged us all to see the world in a new lens, in high definition, and to evaluate what really matters. As a charismatic cowboy in the prime of his life publicly battled cancer, he invited the world to share in his hurts, his hopes, and his Savior. And I know for many people (myself included), what Ryan did in those 10,274 days was to create a ripple effect where we now will go out and change the perspective of others around us. So quite literally, he changed the world.
So despite the fact that the candles on his birthday cake never exceeded 27 and a few times his checking account even dipped below that number (yikes!), Ryan Prudhomme set a standard of living that I pray the rest of us will continue to strive for. He taught us that "apart from [the Lord] I have no good thing." (Psalms 16:2), and that our ultimate purpose in life is glorify the One who created us in His image.
Happy birthday, good and faithful servant, funny cowboy, sweet friend, beloved son, devoted father, loving husband. I am sure that your celebration today is one beyond what any of us can imagine.