Today is my son’s birthday. Thirty-eight years ago today I was lucky enough to bring him into this world where he shone so brightly. As his mom, I’m trying not to get sad or do something worse and make him seem bigger than life or better than he was. I can hear him saying “Mom!” The truth is that he was a whole person who lived and loved his entire life and, like a true star, he left some of his shine on those who met, knew and loved him.

He was a cute little boy, a loving little boy, a funny little boy, a mess of a little boy.


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He was a sweet kid, a fun kid, a sometimes exasperating kid. He was a kid who embraced pop culture from the beginning, always on trend.


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He was a teenager, a handsome teenager, a teenager who worked hard and played hard and studied when the mood struck him or a teacher inspired him.


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He was a college student who partied and danced and went to class and learned what he learned. He rallied for women’s rights, he formed an improv group, he graduated years after he should have, but he graduated.

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He was a young man who became an uncle to his three sisters’ kids, loving them with all his heart.

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He was a cancer survivor for 10 years. He rose to the disease, fighting it with everything he had. When he returned from radiation, I found him comforting other cancer victim online in chatrooms. He volunteered at the hospital, working with cancer patients when most would have rather have been away from that world.

Clayton's mask

He fell in love, deeply in love, and married in all his Scottish finery.

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And he continued to have fun.


He was a brother


and a son


He became a father, a father who loved his little girl with all his heart.


He lived his life right up to the end, teaching us all how to fight through pain every day


He lived a life, a complete life, a circle of life. Today, his wife and daughter, his sisters and their families and I will celebrate that life with Clayton’s Pie Night, pizza (which he delivered in college) and pie (which he loved to bake). His life touched his family, his friends, strangers who met him.

I sang the song to him as a child, as I did to his sisters and to my grandchildren.
You are my sunshine.
May we always bask in the light that he brought to our lives.