To My Brother On His Wedding Day

To My Brother On His Wedding Day

I cried writing this and you know it.
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To you, my dear brother, on your wedding day,

Some people would describe their wedding day as a beautiful occasion. Many would describe it as the start of a wonderful, new chapter in their lives. I would describe your wedding day as, what I can only imagine will be, one of the most amazing days of my life.

I can see it now: the sun is shining high in the sky. The waves are crashing down on the shore. You're standing at the end of the aisle as Erin approaches you in the most extravagant, white dress I've ever seen. Mom and dad are sitting in the front row. Dad has his arm around mom's shoulder as she sobs hysterically that her baby boy is all grown up. Cory and I smile at each other across the way, knowing that you are about to do something utterly magnificent. Mom is now crying so much that the priest cannot speak over her. You're so embarrassed, but you don't even care because you know just how happy she is. You know how happy she is because you feel it, too. She's so proud of the man that you have become. We all are.

Growing up with you by my side has been quite the roller coaster, but I can honestly say that I would not want it any other way. Do you remember the weekend that I was in the hospital, Cory's school had a bomb threat, and you were on vacation and got into a car accident? Dad remained calm, but mom didn't know what to do with herself, so she just sat in the hallway and cried. That was the first time in my life that I ever realized that I couldn't imagine my life without you and Cory. When we were younger, I never had to go very far to find my best friends. I already miss holiday mornings with you and Cory at mom's house: waking up early just to creep through the house and scan for hidden Easter eggs or to see who's stocking was more full on Christmas morning. I get sad whenever we have a party and you're not there because you're with Erin's family. Then I realize that I need to learn to share the wealth, because her family deserves something as good as you, too. Who could have ever guessed that that job interview at T.G.I. Friday's would be just the beginning of one of the best things to ever happen to you?

Today, I am sad. I am sad that you are leaving me to go with her. I am sad that we don't share a kitchen table anymore. I am sad when I look outside and don't see your car in the driveway, but today I am also happy. I am happy that you got that crummy job when you were in college. I am happy that you found Erin. I am happy that you asked me to share this day with you, but most importantly, I am so happy to be your sister.

Today is huge. Today is incredible. Your time has come. Erin is going to look so beautiful and you are going to make her so happy. Mom and dad always told me that I was more like you than I would ever know. Today and everyday I really hope they are right. Thank you for being the role model that always tells me to follow my heart. Thank you for motivating me to get my act together whenever I thought a nap was a better decision than filling out a scholarship application. Thank you for continuously leading the way and protecting me. Thank you for finally giving me a sister, and one so great I could never have imagined. Thank you for being one of my best friends for the past 21 years. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.

I hope that today is the best day of your young life. I hope that you work harder at this family than you ever have at anything before. I hope that you have never been happier than you are right now. I am grateful for you and the time that we spend together, even if you don't save me from the creepy, old, mafia men who try to dance with me at charity events. I am so blessed that whoever is in charge of the wild ride that we call life has given me someone like you to struggle through it with. There is no one I would rather procrastinate with. There is no one I would rather drive nearly 3 hours to see a terrible Fetty Wap concert with. There is no one I would rather play Boopa Bellies with, or watch America's Got Talent with, or consistently show up late with. Now Let's get sloppy drunk and celebrate all that there is to celebrate.

I love you so much more than you know.

Nikki

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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Losing A Grandparent Changed My Life

Live for them, and give them a legacy to be proud of.
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Death isn’t what the average 20-something thinks about every day. You don’t think it will happen to you, or the people around you. You know that it exists because you see heart-wrenching reports on the news daily of another life lost to ignorance or hate.

Yes, losing a grandparent definitely changes your life. For some of us, it's a drastic change. To others: they knew it was coming. Still, some weren't even close to their grandparents because they lived too far away from each other to build a relationship in person.

I can't even fathom that considering both of my grandparents lived a city away from me or across town. They are your second set of parents and the love you've had for your entire life. They are the lessons learned and the ones holding your hand through it all.

When my grandfather died (affectionately known to me as Papa), my life changed. I watched him take his last breath in the hospital alone. I called my mother to tell her that her father died. In that moment: my emotionally sheltered life was torn apart. In that moment: I had to grow up. The person I had leaned on my entire life was gone.

I literally reconsidered everything I had done in my life in a matter of hours. I thought about college, finally graduating and walking across that stage: cords swinging and my tassel hanging there. That was his biggest dream for me, we were only a year away from it when he left this earth.

When a grandparent passes they take a part of you: big or small. When you were younger you planned out life with them. You shared your dreams with them, your insecurities, your childish ways and most of all you shared your love.

They, in turn, taught you lessons about life, helped you realize those dreams, and never let you go without being told you were loved every single time they saw you. They are the suppliers of happiness, security, and laughs. Friends come and go, but your family stays with you forever.

The bottom line is: most everyone knows what it's like to lose a grandparent. We all cope differently, and leaning on others is the best way to keep yourself up. Facing the reality of death is the only way we can accept it and move on. Moving on doesn't mean forgetting, it means understanding. We were lucky enough to have these amazing people to guide us through our younger years, teaching us these vital lessons.

I can't tell you how many times a day I wish I had my papa back. Learning to cope without them is the hardest part, even years later. Grandparents prepare you for life's greatest gains. Little did they know they would be their grandchildren's biggest loss. Live for them, and give them a legacy to be proud of.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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What It Is Really Like Having Sisters Close To Your Age

While having siblings close to your age is pretty amazing, there can be a lot of issues that can come with it.

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I come from a family of 5 people and 1 dog. I have 2 sisters, Grace and Caroline. We are all pretty close in age, Caroline being the youngest and 3 years younger than me.

My sisters and I share a bond like no one else, no one can replicate it. When you have siblings close to your age you have built-in best friends, and since they are around your age you have the same interest, or at least, enough so that you can do things that other siblings cannot. Examples of this would be seeing R-Rated movies and going to the mall without too much complaining, along with being able to shop in the same stores or even share clothes. Grace and I sometimes even split the cost of a shirt we both like.

We even overlap friend groups! Which is not much of a problem for us, Grace and I are both in music programs which overlap enough for us to have the same friends, which is great for when one of us has a sleepover, the other can join in on the fun. Caroline, however, even though she is seen as the sporty one of the 3 of us, she still has a lot of friends who have similar interests as Grace or I, giving us a lot of the same friends. It's nice not to be considered the "cool older sister", I am just like the rest of them.

While we do fight a lot, we make up really quickly, because most issues we have are stupid sibling fights: who gets the T.V., what to have for dinner, what movie to see. But it is always fun because there are 3 of us, which means majority rules, something we tend to go by most of the time depending on the situation.

Having 3 teenagers in the house can be a handful for our parents though, when you have three teenage girls going through puberty at relatively the same time, it can be grueling, especially when you are all on your period at the same time.. (yes, that has happened before) (and yes, it sucks). While I am on the topic, let's say a prayer and a thank you to my dad for dealing with 5 girls (including the dog, obviously) because he does a pretty damn good job at dealing with all of us.

When we were younger, we always had a play date even when one was canceled. We all made up songs and dances and would perform them for our parents. We even had a band called The Halsey Sisters (AKA the female version of The Jonas Brothers) where we had a hit song called "We Got The Heart and Soul". It was a hell of a time. Let's just say the music video for that song is, interesting to say the least.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't switch my sisters for anything in the world, they are my rocks, and I wouldn't want it any other way, Grace, Caroline, keep doing what you're doing, because you're pretty damn awesome.

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