My sister is getting married on Sunday (10/10/10). I'll be officiating the ceremony. Here's a small piece of what I'll be saying:
Growing old sucks.
As I approach the ripe old age of 30 this December, I'm reminded of my own mortality and the creeping fact that I'm not as fast, healthy, or lean as I used to be. I'm reminded of my age every time I look in the mirror, into the face of my daughter, or at clothes that don't hang on me like they used to.
But if there's one silver lining to growing old, it's that it's the only way you can grow together.
It takes time to form meaningful relationships. You and Mathieu first discovered this while slogging through hundreds of miles hiking the Appalachian Trail when you met one another. Steps and miles take time; so does getting to know someone. And while each step or day or year means you're not as young as you used to be, it also means you're not as far apart as you used to be.
Your relationship has spanned time and distance. And while both of you may have wanted this day to come sooner, when you were just a bit younger, the benefit of the increased time is that you're now closer. And this fact should give each of you hope that the best days of your relationship are yet to come. My hope for you is that the older you get, the closer you become.
There's a picture of you and I on the day Molly (our youngest sister) was born. Mom wanted one thing when you and I came to the hospital to visit our new sister: that we were wearing our "I'm the big brother" and "I'm the big sister" shirts. Don and Maureen (with whom we spent the night) made sure that happened, and the picture captures a moment in time that is accurate, but incomplete.
It was the last time it was just you and I; after that moment, Molly made three of us kids and our definition of family expanded (to five). What's most interesting about the picture, however, isn't that your bleach blonde hair eventually become darker or that I wore my shorts and socks embarrassingly high; it's that you - smiling at the camera - were just beginning to make things your own.
Ever since, you've made every family picture unique. Some may say you ruin pictures by making faces; I say that's the only way to capture the real you. You were the first of us kids to go the emergency room, the first to make it to the top of the tree in our front yard, and the first to bring in animals. And while seemingly unconventional, each unique Maribeth moment enriches the lives of each person in our family, which is expanding yet again today, with the addition of Mathieu (up to eight now).
Time has allowed us all to grow older, but to also grow together, thanks to the special experiences you've created for us. It's been an honor to participate in this weekend's festivities of laser tag, pottery painting, 5k running - things that may be slightly unconventional for a wedding weekend, but things that allow all of us to grow closer together.
And now, as you and Mathieu make promises, exchange rings, and continue to grow together, I desperately hope that the two of you continue to create experiences for our family and each other that are uniquely yours, no matter how old any of us become.
Growing old sucks, but there is nothing better than growing together.