You guys, my little brother got married. To the most surprising girl.
She’s beautiful, quiet, and brave. She founded a sorority (did you know you could do that? I didn’t). She’s very much an introvert, so I think the idea of being the one in the white dress that everyone was staring at, while on some level what ‘every girl dreams of’ (I didn’t, but I hear it’s a thing), was kind of terrifying for her. And planning a wedding; well, if you’ve never done that before I’ll just say that if you can survive planning a wedding with someone (and their family! and your family! exclamation point!) then your marriage is off to a great start.
I think it was really super brave of her to have a big fancy wedding. When you’d rather be in the back of the room writing instead of in the front of the room dancing it takes a lot to not run and hide. That doesn’t mean that weddings aren’t fun. They had fun too, dancing and seeing their friends and eating. But similar to parenting, my observation is that everyone wants to help you, everyone wants the best for you, and lots of people ask you the same questions over and over.
And now after the wedding, they are packing up and headed for Canada. My brother found work on a cattle ranch and will learn that trade, and my sister-in-law will help with general farm work. I think that’s awesome. She’s going to take care of chickens! E will randomly say, “I’m sad, because my Auntie L is far away.” Sorry little brother, she really does love you too. But you’re not a girl. Hope you understand. I’m very glad that this move is happening after skype became a thing.
Doesn’t sister-in-law sound kind of awkward? I think it is. You pick this person to marry, and you bind yourself to that person for life. And that person comes already bound to these other people. And they helped shape the person you picked and that means they have great value. But while they are definitely family, you haven’t known each other for years; even though it seems you are ‘supposed’ to be immediately close since now you are something like sisters to one another, it’s tricky. You don’t know each other well enough to gauge what to say and how to say it (to be fair, I am still learning that with the people who HAVE known me for my whole life…ahem). While the in-law relationship can be tricky, I can say first-hand that it can be incredibly worth it to learn to be close.
So L, I have been thinking of calling you ‘mei-mei’. It means ‘little sister’ in chinese and is how girls refer to each other affectionately in Firefly (I know, cheesy sci-fi, but you don’t have to watch it to be called that…although you could. Watch it. I started with the movie first and then watched the series, and honestly I think I liked it more quickly because of that. But I digress.).
I think mei-mei sounds less…like the wicked step-sister from a fairy tale. And while I’ve never been a big sister to a girl before, I’d really like to think of you that way. I love my brother a lot and I love you too and I am excited to see how our relationship develops over time. From what I’ve seen on tv, I think we’re off to a good sisterly start. You already ‘stole’ some of my favorite jeans. Psssst….I know I said I want them back, but I really think you should take them to Canada with you if you want to. They look way cute on you and I’ll pretty definitely never be that size again! If you still have them when E is that size, maybe she can have them back. It’s really ok.
I thought a lot during your wedding planning time about how I could be helpful, though I know sometimes I was clumsy about it. I would apologize, but I tell my daughter it means more if you apologize when you actually mean to change and while I can try to curb my social short comings, I seem completely unable to shut them out entirely. So here are some things you can expect from me:
I will say awkward things awkwardly. I will NOT mean them the way that they sound. It runs in our family. My brother does it too. Maybe even more than me. Good luck with that. If you haven’t already I bet you’ll get really great at saying, “Do you mean this? Or this?” J can probably speak to that more than me. God bless him.
I will assume the best of you and your intentions. In a culture where getting offended is something of a national pastime, I will choose not to be offended by things that I can tell you don’t intend offense by. That may sound like a small thing. It’s not.
I will offer to do things for you. It will not hurt my feelings if you say no. I just want good things for you and D.
So best wishes as you go about the business of being married people. Please know that you are loved and cared about. Below is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote that was important to us as we started out, and it is our prayer for you too.