My brother proposed to his girlfriend on May 9. It was the one of the most nerve wracking days of my life.
Not because I thought it had anything to do with me, but as his only sibling, knowing he was going to propose that evening, I could feel my gut churning with his. Siblings, especially twins (Sam and I are FAR from twins) often express the ability to “feel with each other” and I think that is what was happening that day. I was jittery, anxious, unable to eat, unable to sit still, and my thoughts were racing. There was no doubt in my mind that my brother’s now fiancé would say no. I knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Sam. I just couldn’t stop thinking about my brother, his day, him going over and over and over what he would say when the moment came, would his hands shake, would he be nervous, would he feel loved and special, and would they have that one moment together before the rest of their friends and families showered them with encouragement and love when they could just enjoy each other…
I feel “with people” a lot. Being empathetic is part of my job description. But I don’t think I have ever “felt with” someone, especially my only sibling, for hours on end. I tried everything to distract myself. I watched movies, I went to the gym, I visited friends, I tried to read and write…nothing worked. I was a nervous wreck FOR him, and I am 800 miles away!
In the 30 minutes leading up to the time I knew Sam would propose to Annie on the roof of his apartment building in downtown Memphis, I paced the floor of my living room countless times, set a champagne glass and a mini-bottle of champagne out on the coffee table, made sure my phone was charged so I could be on FaceTime when they walked into the apartment where their family and friends were waiting, and felt like I was going to puke.
This past Friday I visited a local wedding shop to get fitted for, and order, my bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding. My little brother, the bald little bundle who I got to hold almost as soon as he came into the world, the kid who booby trapped my room and set his room on fire with my candle collection and used to play naked in the drain pipes on beach vacations, has found the love of his life and is getting married in a few short months. I find myself laughing and crying at the same time when I think about the wedding and what that day will be like for everyone. It’s hard to communicate to Sam’s fiancé just how grateful I am for her heart, and how she loves my brother. I have prayed for Sam’s spouse for years and God surpassed my wildest dreams with Annie.
In many ways, I can’t wait to watch and hear my brother say, “I do.” In very few ways, I can wait because my brother’s heart belongs to his soon-to-be-wife and they will be a family. While I will always be his sister, his focus and time and energy will be given to his wife, as it should be. When I want to make plans with him, there will now be a them. Our family will grow and I will get to learn more about this woman who has captured my brother’s heart. Our relationship will change, as it should, and I will look forward to starting my own family.
Several people have asked me, “Is it hard for you to have your brother get engaged before you?” Well, yes and no to be honest. Sam proposing has nothing to do with my desire to be married and have a family, but it does affect me. I can grieve my own singleness and celebrate his marriage at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive. My total and complete joy for him doesn’t erase my deferred hope, if anything it strengthens it. Walking with my brother through this season gives me a front row seat to all of the emotions that come with hope and desire. I can feel with him and still feel for me.
I can’t wait for my brother’s wedding day. I can’t wait to watch the expression on his face as he sees his bride walk towards him for the first time. I can’t wait to hear Annie vow to love and cherish the former little butterball baby who changed my life forever when he was born. I can’t wait to watch them kiss and share a first dance and smash wedding cake into each other’s faces and laugh with their friends.
It will be a joyous day and this older sister’s heart will give thanks that we were all designed to love and be loved.