Here is the toast I gave at my brother’s wedding on Saturday, Aug 3, 2013:
My dear brother,
Thank you for this huge honor, naming me your best man and giving me a chance to share my thoughts and feelings. I have a few words for you, a few words for Rebecca, and a few words for you both.
It’s been interesting to reflect on our relationship and how it’s changed over the years. My job as your big brother is *supposed* to be about showing you the way. I think I’ve done that, to some degree, since we were very young.
But not always in the most obvious or direct way.
In fact, for much of your life I think the largest influence I’ve exerted on you may have been in showing you what *not* to do. Examples abound.
As kids, I was skateboarding in traffic, holding onto car bumpers on Mass Ave, while you were learning to program computers. As teenagers, I was busy worrying about how to impress the girls while you (with much greater success) were actually impressing the scientists at MIT’s Lincoln Labs and doing antimatter research at Harvard. In college, I won drinking games while you won programming competitions. I think I had a natural talent for showing you what not to do. And you were probably smarter than you realized to learn from my mistakes and choose a different path.
In a lot of ways, you’ve been more like the big brother. When it comes to computers, you’ll always be able to code circles around me. Professionally speaking, you’ve got many years and whole categories of entrepreneurial experience on me. I’m grateful not to feel a sense of sibling rivalry about it, because if it were a competition it wouldn’t even be close. I’ve looked up to you for a long time in this realm and doubt that will ever change. Your brilliance and energy are contagious and wonderful. As is your huge warm heart and desire to teach and to share. I think you’re a hero of sorts to a lot of people, and I count myself among them. You are amazing.
So it was more than a little flattering when, 13 years ago, you spoke at my wedding and told everyone that you looked up to me. Yes, I still remember your speech. You said you hoped to emulate me by living in a way that embraced enjoying life to the fullest. Of course at that point you were probably referring to my then-recent adventures in Europe with Shawna. If there’s a marker in my personal history, a signpost marking the point where my decision-making started to improve, marrying Shawna has to be it.
Speaking from experience, marrying your best friend, someone you love and respect, someone who is every bit your equal and who is capable of things you yourself are not, is an excellent decision. So, brother, maybe we’ve reached a new phase of our relationship, where some of the choices I’ve made as an adult can actually serve as a reasonable model for you to follow. When I look at my amazing wife and incredible daughters, I know I’ve done something right. Possibly it’s just unbelievably good luck. Whatever it is, I wish it for you. [More on that in a bit. But first I want to say something to your lovely bride.]
Here we are, at long last. It’s been quite a year-plus for our family, as you well know. Getting to know your SO’s family and becoming a part of it isn’t easy in the best of times, let alone when there is suffering and loss. Your willingness to be there last year, and your efforts to help, did not go unnoticed. You probably don’t even remember this, but at the reception following my mother’s funeral service, I’d been standing for about an hour greeting the many, many people who’d come to pay their respects. Unasked for, and without saying a word, you brought me a much-needed glass of cool water. Sometimes it’s the little things that reveal someone’s character. To me, that thoughtful action spoke volumes. Sometimes there isn’t much anyone can do. But during this entire tumultuous and difficult chapter in my family’s life, you have done your level best to take care of us in the ways that you could. And most of all, you’ve been taking care of David. Thank you for that. Please keep taking care of him. I’m confident you will. And welcome, officially, to the family.
To both of you, I want to pass on 3 key pieces of advice given to me and Shawna at our wedding by our wise and dear friend and pastor Bob Ludwig, who said:
* Be quick to say “I Love You”, early and often.
* Be quick to say “I’m Sorry”.
* Give each other room to change and grow. Things will change; marriage is about navigating that change together.
Finally, I wanted to mention to everyone else that for years, David has talked about whisking Abi and Harper away on grand adventures with Uncle David. I can’t blame him; my daughters are a ton of fun. Well, David, now that you’re married I can finally say in no uncertain terms: if you want to spend summers playing with children — ….. MAKE SOME OF YOUR OWN!!! :)I love you, little brother. Congratulations.