I always knew this day would come. Of the three of us, I always knew you’d be first. You’re too beautiful, hilarious, sweet, and sincere. You love God, and you love people. You love Star Wars.
How could a guy not want to spend the rest of his life with you?
Your wedding day was among my most memorable spent with our incredible family. So many of our loved ones flocked to unassuming Alabama, including our grandmother to the dance floor, and these are memories I won’t soon forget.
But I’ll be honest. Seeing you in your wedding gown, smile as wide as I’ve ever seen, walking arm-in-arm with our dad, then standing across from the man you would pledge the rest of your life to — it was all too much. I had to turn my head away and blink back the tears.
Standing there watching you gaze into the eyes of your groom, I felt like you weren’t my little sister anymore. It felt like you’d become someone else. Someone new and metamorphosed beyond the butterfly you already were.
I remember holding your kindergarten hand onto crowded public school buses. I remember being separated by several rows one morning and watching the entire route to make sure those public school kids weren’t messing with you.
I remember walking you to your classroom the first day at our new school in Georgia. I remember watching over you during countless lunches and other times you probably didn’t realize I was there.
I remember snooping through your diary, partly because that’s what annoying older brothers do; mostly, though, I just wanted to make sure the mysterious new boy you liked passed my qualifications. Because that’s what annoying older brothers do, too.
I remember asking you to help me bleach my hair in college because I needed an innocent drastic change in my life and I trusted you. You never questioned me, and you reassured me the whole time.
I remember helping you with math homework throughout high school and even as recently as six months ago from three states away while I was on the phone in a Harris Teeter parking lot. I’d drop anything I was doing to help you find the joy in cubic roots of algebraic expressions.
I remember our first road trip without our parents’ watchful eyes. We ventured to the Outer Banks and our Pennsylvanian homeland, and you were the navigator beside me with printed directions in a prehistoric world before iPhones and GPS.
I remember our other big road trip from LA to Seattle. I was so happy when you told me you’d love to fly across the country and come wander with me.
I remember your move from Georgia to Alabama was one of the scariest days of my life, because you were really doing it, leaving home like I’d done two years prior, and I was so proud of you, yet I knew I couldn’t hold you by the hand and walk you into your brave new chapter.
Somehow I knew you’d be okay in Alabama. And yet I never would have known you’d find your husband there so soon — the husband I knew you’d find eventually.
As you took the hands of the one you love, as you said I do, as you kissed him, and as you turned back down the aisle, I felt the last 27 years dissipating down with you.
I’m confident your husband will love and cherish you as you deserve to be loved and cherished. I am glad and grateful for him, for you, and now you both as one.
And yet I can’t help mourning our lost childhood and smatterings of adulthood. Those suddenly gone moments when I was your protector, your fellow adventurer, your older brother.
I will never stop worrying over you the way only an older brother can, but I recognize we will be forever different now, you and me, as it should be, as this new chapter necessitates. I feel this new chapter will be hard for me.
Truthfully, I doubt God will pen me a love story like yours. I fear being forgotten in the wake of others’ happiness, and yet I know this is only a fraction of the storm I am feeling.
It’s ironic, I suppose. I am terrified when others change or leave, especially those I love, especially you — this despite my being the person that probably changes and leaves more than anyone I know.
I have never told you this, my little sister, but your wanderings have furthered my own. Your many months of journeying to Europe and Africa and your heart for the impoverished, the lost, the broken have inspired me to look beyond my own solitary bubble.
As my own journey wanders onward to who knows where next, I want to be more like my little sister.
Even as our geographical journeys have diverged these last few years, I have watched over you from afar, praying that you find more and more of God and yourself as you wander across oceans and state lines alike. I pray you find even more of Him with a committed husband by your side.
You two, now one, will discover wonders untold and inspire a world in need. Of this I have no doubt.
I love you, little sister.
Forever proud. Forever inspired. Forever annoying.
Forever your older brother,