My sister and her boorish husband were married last summer and have spent most of their time together apart, beset by bureaucracy and logistics (Johnny is a brit and for some reason immigration has been an issue for him - I’d venture that it’s his hideous mug, but I’m not an immigration lawyer.) In celebration of his approval to return to the USA and be with my sister in person, I am posting the full version of the speech I gave at her wedding. Rachael, Johnny - This is the full version of the speech i gave at your wedding. Due to the incredible theatrics of Miles and Creedy (I’ve never seen anything quite like that) and the rapidly setting sun, I felt it appropriate to cut out a good deal of what i was going to say. I am posting it for you to see and read as you see fit, and for the friends and family who could not make it to the UK.
For those of you who do not know me, I am Rachael’s brother, Aaron. I can’t possibly thank each of you enough for hosting us Yanks, the 14-some contingent of Rachael’s family and closest friends who were able to make the journey to be here with her in this lovely town of Southport. It’s clear from the lot of you that Johnny, and now Rachael as well, has a fantastic network from which they may start their “new” lives together. I, have a unique relationship to Rachael as her only brother, and one can deduce from this that i am also her favorite brother. How strange a sight it is to see her here, grown, bespoke in a wedding gown, when my mental image of her is mostly stuck of her at 12, waifish, wearing a soccer uniform and pestering me about playing high school soccer. Or of her at 3 or 4, at a bbq with friends (at Michelle’s, who sits with us today, parent’s house; long-term family friends of my mother), with a mouth full of roly-pollies and my mother in a fit about it. Over the last week or so, i’ve reflected a great deal about my relationship to my sister and have had some of those childish memories replaced by other moments from the more recent past. I recall just three short years ago us graduating college together and shortly after, her departing for Costa Rica to teach english to kids and perfect her Spanish. The last time i saw her before she left was the first time I had seen her as a more-than-capable adult, and the images of the childhood sister were pushed aside for this new portrait of her - a young woman, educated, daring, and driven, with a fervent purpose to find purpose and meaning in her jubilant life. She left Costa Rica and applied to the fiercely competitive Teach for America program, where she was accepted and now educates the kids in Texas who need it the most, a most laudable career choice indeed. Seeing her a day or two before she departed our childhood home for Dallas added a new portrait of her to my mind, one again of this adult woman who was capable of anything she chose to do, far more than we could have thought as kids, spending our summers antagonizing each other in our beloved grandmother’s backyard. And now this whole wedding nonsense - about four months ago, Rachael and I had breakfast at home in Albuquerque and after a bit of catching up, she sheepishly asked me if i would walk her down the aisle at her wedding. My first thought, which i then kept to myself, was “You’ve never needed me to hold your hand ever in life though any event, why set that precedent now?” My second and more proper thought was that I was honored to be invited to do so. Yet another new portrait of her, together with me, emerged from that day. And now, we have gathered here to see these two young lovers get married. Let this add another portrait for all of our memories, most importantly Johnny and Rachael. Johnny, Rachael - seeing the abundance of love between the two of you and that you just got married, I’d like to read a bit of Khalil Gibrain’s thoughts on Love and Marriage to the two of you; if you are not familiar with him, please spend some time with his brilliant prose.
Gibrain has this to say on love:
And think not you can direct the course of love,
if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires,
let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Gibrain has this to say on Marriage:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are
alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
And lastly, i have this to say: The two of you have spent much of your time geographically separated from the other and are both fiercely independent people with your own hopes, dreams, and aspirations. There will be days when your winged hearts feel a bit encumbered. Johnny, forever hold my sister’s hand, and Rachael, forever hold my new brother’s hand as you continue your story throughout your new lives together.