Today is the 20th Dooley Day. TWENTY YEARS. Wow!! I really and truly cannot believe it’s been that long since we said farewell to our dear Ryan Patrick “Dooley” Miller. My awesome little brother!
I had the honor of speaking at a women’s conference for our church years ago where I shared the whole story about Dooley’s death. It’s here if you want to take a few minutes to read it 🙂 I just re-read it and I STILL see God’s hand at work in Dooley’s story to this day.
The nickname Dooley makes me laugh because it really has nothing to do with Dooley’s actual name! When we were little, my grandparents gave us little bug nicknames (not really sure why…) but mine was Ladybug, Jordan’s was Cricket, and Dooley’s was Doodlebug! Jordan and I couldn’t say Doodlebug, so we just said Dooley. And it stuck!! And oh my goodness was it fitting for him 🙂 hah! And he liked it!
When Dempsey was little, Lily Ryan started calling him Burnts. We have NO IDEA WHY (and she herself has no idea why) but we still to this day call him Burnts sometimes! And lately, Lily Ryan has told me that she doesn’t like when I say Lily Ryan to her. She tells me she would rather me call her by any of her nicknames! Which is so funny and ironic to me because she was named after Uncle Dooley (the Ryan part) and she prefers a fake name over a given name, kinda like the original Ryan! Interesting little details 🙂
So as I was preparing for this year’s Dooley Day post, I went back and re-read my post from last year. And oh my goodness it made me cry and laugh because YES YES YES, it’s all still so accurate about what Dooley characteristics I see in my three kiddos!! I’m going to copy and paste a little bit here:
Tall, lanky, tender-hearted Wilson whose sensitivity is one of the most precious (sometimes annoying) things about him, and his love for drawing his favorite book characters in pencil are so Uncle Dooley! I remember Dooley’s Garfield characters. Wilson is currently into Dog Man, and he’s getting pretty good! Dooley was supposed to be about 6’8” and Wilson is projected to be about 6’8” as well. Tall, handsome boys! 🙂 Price actually commented over the weekend to me as we were talking about Wilson’s height and how several girls have made comments lately about how cute he is, “I think your oldest son is going to look an awful lot like your little brother as he continues to grow.” And I think he’s right! Which is a magical and sweet and great thing! 🙂
Lily Ryan, with her bright blonde hair, is always (ALWAYS) asking questions and is rarely satisfied with the simple answer. She needs a deep dive! A lot like her Uncle Dooley 🙂 On that same note, I remember one time when we were little, our whole family was in the car driving down I-55 and someone pointed out an airplane. “Where is it? I don’t see it,” Dooley said. “It’s right over there,” the rest of us were saying, pointing to a certain spot in the sky. Dooley never could spot the airplane, and I remember him getting so upset about it (I’m laughing as I type this!) because that is ABSOLUTELY something that happens with Lily Ryan on the regular! Dooley and Lily Ryan just want to be in the know, and it just really ruffles their feathers when they miss something that everyone else caught! haha
And Dempsey! The blonde hair, the full baby face, the rounder eyes. His (generally) go-with-the-flow attitude, the constant testing of his limits, and his love for making others laugh are so much like Uncle Dooley 🙂 My mama tells a story about Dooley where, right about when he was starting to form sentences, he told her to quit singing the song she was singing. ( I can’t imagine why, because my mama has a lovely voice!) I imagine her laughing, then continuing to hum or sing more softly. But he said, “I said… don’t sing!” He was the baby and he wanted it his way! haha and Dempsey is JUST like that! (2022 edit: Demps regularly tells me to stop singing! haha but unlike my mother, I do NOT have a good voice, so I get it!!) I was fixing Dempsey cereal the other day and I grabbed a blue bowl to pour the cereal into. “I want gween bowl,” Dempsey said. I started telling him how great blue was and that the green bowl was on the very bottom of the stack and how he could just enjoy a blue bowl. “I WANT GWEEN BOWL, MAMA.” Wellokaythen… hah!! Two boys, just wantin what they WANT, and are not afraid to tell their mamas about it!
I love the little Dooley-isms I get to witness every day. They’re so sweet! And I think these would be very easy to overlook if I didn’t try and see them. (I actually do often overlook them during the busyness of the day-to-day.) My Dooley Day 2021 takeaway (and 2022- I needed this refresher) is the reminder to slow down and notice LIFE. To notice little things in your kids or your surroundings that are meaningful. To stop and think about how perfect God’s design and timeline are. I love seeing Dooley in my kids, but it’s really easy to overlook on the busy days. I hope and pray that you’ll be able to slow down this week and take note of something that maybe you’ve been speeding past lately.
Life is short. It’s easy to miss!! TODAY IS THE DAY to point out something to a friend or family member or coworker that you appreciate about them. Tell them something you noticed about them that made you smile! Because we are not promised tomorrow.
I’d also love to encourage anyone going through a hard time right now, whatever that may look like, with a scripture that landed on my radar this time last year that I just LOOOOOVE!! Isaiah 45:3 says, “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
Did you read that? There are secret treasures hidden in the dark times! I got to hear Katherine Wolfe speak last year, and she’s the one who dove into this scripture. She pointed out that, when we go through dark seasons, there are treasures! She said, “If I’m going to have to go through a hard time, I may as well be on the hunt for the treasure! That makes the dark season more bearable, right?!” Yes!!
Dooley’s death was dark. And there are days when emotions will just hit me that make some days harder than others. Then of course, life goes on an other hard things enter our lives. But it’s so encouraging to know that we can take a treasure with us from the difficult, dark times! 🙂 I hope that encourages you if you are going through a dark season right now. There’s joy to be found if you are open to it.
My hope for anyone who knew Dooley is that you have a happy memory of him today. You might even want to eat a Reese’s in his honor! (Backstory on that here. Beware that it involves farts! haha sister of two brothers over here! 😉 ) And my hope for anyone who didn’t know Dooley is that you (1) have a free excuse to treat yourself to a Reese’s product of some type and (2) that you notice the nearness of God today and every day. I hope and pray we all fall more in love with our Creator today! 🙂
We have the joyful peace of knowing we will get to see Dooley again in Heaven one day! I thank God every day for SALVATION and life beyond the grave! But until then, our challenge is to bring Heaven to earth with how we show the love to Jesus to everyone we encounter. I think Dooley was really good at that 🙂
Thanks for taking time to remember Dooley with me. He was something special! 🙂 So thankful for God’s big, amazing, perfect plan!