Saturday, March 29, 2014

Not Ready to Say "Goodbye"

Alas, this is not a post about graduation from MIT, nor the fact that I'm ending the career which I have grown accustomed to for the past 17 years (being a student). No, this is about something which I have not allowed myself to fully think about for as long as I can remember. This post, my dear reader, is about the my biggest hero, the man who has always been there for me, my co-namesake for Confirmation, and the role model I look for in a husband and father for my own family one day. This post, is for my beloved "Bro."

As I write this, I must remind myself not to post this for a few days, until I get word that my brother has successfully proposed to his lovely girlfriend of 6 years (they just flew to Iceland to see the Northern lights and he plans to pop the question on by a lake, I told him if he could command the lights to appear at the very moment, I'm pretty sure that's a guaranteed yes). [Edit: it was a volcano. I asked if she threw the ring in (LOTR ref), but alas they did not. ]

I have really struggled for years with the idea of my brother growing up, finding someone, and deciding to start a new life with this woman. I struggled because I acknowledge that to a large extent, in starting a new life, you leaving your old. And that is natural, right?-- to make a future with your spouse.  ("And they will become one flesh" Gen. 2:24 comes to mind.) But for a little sister, to watch and know that the one you have always been able to count on and always admired is now leaving, in a whole new sense of that word, to be happy with someone else, well... it's hard. It was hard to be purely happy in this moment (setting aside that I don't think anyone will ever be good enough for my brother, but that's just me being an overly protective little sister) because I know that this will mean I will probably see him less. I know my fear that I'd get forgotten about is unfounded, and as a senior graduating from MIT you'd think that'd be enough to silence it, but it's not. He now becomes theyThey will make a decision about where they live (regardless of the fact that I have it on my bucket list to live close enough to my brother's family to always be able to have Sunday meals together and go to the same church, hah!). I say this all, and I don't mean to sound bitter or needy or anything but acknowledging of the feelings I have. I think it's just me being an extremely attached little sister... one, who is going to miss that comforting big brother who has always been there for me, but now will have a new duty and responsibility, even though I know it's only natural and I deep down encourage that behavior-- as I too, will expect that devotion from someone one day.

And then I realized recently, I had thought this change meant that he would completely abandon his old life. You see, I think that when a couple marries, they put the other first before themselves in the true sense of love. Because of this, I thought that it meant my brother would always put her first and that our bro-sis dates would be done forever. And what is to happen to the tradition of our strange ways of delivering Christmas presents (often in the form of a treasure hunt)? Would I now have to give them plainly or worse yet, mail them to him? My worry of this was because I fully expect my brother to lie down his life and love for her, because he is one of the most genuine, dedicated, and honest people I know.

I was talking with my mother the other day and she mentioned how she was observing at Thanksgiving how my brother lit up when she would speak. Simply put: he was delighted in her. This man, who hasn't really had a great example of what marriage is, I have no doubt will be a fantastic husband. And perhaps that's part of my qualms is that I'm nervous about marriage in general. I plan to get married, certainly, but it still scares me shitless. In any case, something I've come to acknowledge is that there is a lot I can learn from her and my brother and their relationship, and soon to be, marriage. And most importantly, she is marrying into our family. Some people have no ties to their family, as such, they marry just one person. But, in this case, I think both sides will welcome the new addition (her parents are rather adorable, well, her mom is adorable, I'd describe her father as stately).

While I don't know her as well as I know my brother and sure, and there are things that bug me about her (there are things that bug me about my brother too!), I know how happy she makes my brother. I trust that my brother knows how her well enough that I can trust that she will guard his heart with care--not an easy thing for me to do. And in doing so, equally lie down her life and love for him.

I still had this sense of helplessness. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but like, my mamma could be a good mother-in-law to her, her parents could be good in-laws for my brother. But what about me? Then I realized: she has never gotten to know what it's like to have a little sister. She hasn't had the past 21 years of memories with a sibling that my brother has had with me. It struck me, this is my chance to show her what sibling love is like. This is how I can be helpful. I can welcome her whole heartedly into my life. I can forego my inhibitions about whether or not she's good enough for my brother and I can learn to trust-- in both of them-- and love. I can still deliver presents at Christmas in my own unusual way to my brother and now I can include her in the annoying brain teasers that will lead to her presents! I can look forward to the chance to treat her with the sisterly love she deserves (and I apologize if I've ever not done so! just me being a protective little brat probably, haha) and to what the future will bring us all.

With that, I am not ready to say goodbye to my brother, so, although my brother is entering a new chapter in his life,  I realize now that that entails so much more than a goodbye to how things used to be. I realize now what that really means-- a hello.

Hello, my dearest soon-to-be-sister. I've been praying for you, long before we ever met. Welcome to the family.

Much love and so many kisses to you both,
Jacqueline