I gained a sister over the weekend. My brother, Zachary, married Nicole on a stunningly beautiful summer day. We enjoyed 70-degree weather with a sky full of fluffy clouds with glimpses of blue. Their wedding ceremony took place at our dad’s beautiful barn in Barrington, Illinois. We took lovely photos around his 10-acre property and then rode in a stretch Camero limo to the Seville in Streamwood. We danced all night long with our 1-year-old and he took a 4-hour nap the following day.
Usually, the main of honor and best man give speeches at the reception party, but this was my only brother’s wedding and even though I didn’t have either of those titles, I gave my own toast:
“I just wanted to say a few words about the groom. He’s my younger brother. I used to call him my little brother but I stopped when he grew eight inches taller than me.
Zach is a really awesome brother. He’s kind, thoughtful, loving, funny, sensitive, and he goes the extra mile to make sure you feel special, like bringing a soft serve ice cream machine to my graduation party.
We’re only three years apart – just the right age gap for us to grow up as close friends. When we were little, Zach chased me around the sidewalk with his big wheel, yelling crazy things. In the summer, we played around in the sprinkler and in the winter, pulled each other on sleds in the snow. He spied on my birthday sleepovers, throwing things at my friends from behind the couch to make us all laugh. We played PokeMon Snap from the top of his lofted bed and watched movies like Jurassic Park and Twister over and over again. Even when our parents split when we were young, Zach and I were always together. I think it made us even closer.
Every time Eric and I moved to a new apartment in the city, Zach would come help. We even dropped a couch on him, and he still came back to help. Him and Nicole come over on Sundays for dinner and zombie nights. We watch The Walking Dead together. They always bring dessert. The first week we brought home our son, Leigh, Zach hung in there while we freaked out, trying to figure out the parenting thing. I think we’ve gotten better at it now, but even when we have our frustrating moments, Zach’s all about the “let’s calm down and hold hands.” He’s super good at being a voice of reason. And he’s a pretty cool uncle. Nicole is an even better aunt.
I’ve always been in the one-kid camp. When we decided to have a baby, I knew our lives would never be the same. Babies really are as much work as everyone says they are. I’d be perfectly happy with one child. But Zach’s been really great to grow up with and the idea of Leigh missing out on that makes me think it would be totally worth all the sleepless nights. If we decide to have another kid one day, it’s because of you, Zach. You’ve made my life so much better.
And I know he’s going to make your life better, Nicole. I wish you both many, many years of happiness. I love you both.
Of course, I cried while saying this in front of more than 100 people. But I lost my reputation for holding it together when speaking in public a long time ago. I didn’t make it further than one sentence when I gave my valedictorian speech at my high school graduation. THAT was embarrassing.
Either way, I look forward to many happy years with the new addition to our family. I hope she doesn’t run away screaming!