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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The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
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Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

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Poetry On Odyssey: My Shadow

*Trigger Warning*

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views

*Trigger Warning*


My shadow

Casting itself upon the brightness of others

At least

It comes back


I found it difficult to remember a moment

Where I was held by someone

Held with the idea of love in mind

Held.


Sleeping in the same Cinderella nightgown every night

Dreaming one day I would get away from my evil

Only I am the evil.


I dreamed of arms wrapped around me

Moments later I was raped

So I stopped asking for hugs

For fear it'd be another "game" he'd play

Another room I'd be locked in

Another nightmare.

I stopped dreaming

I stopped thinking

I stopped


I


I am still the little girl begging my "parents" to help me

I am still the little girl begging God to take my life

Needing a hug

Crying from moments of bruising

Leaving more lesions than love

I am still


Still in the solemn presence of my own self

Hearing nothing but the echo of my own heart beating

The sound of my breath leaving my otherwise lifeless lungs


It hurts


The movement of my eyes

Fluttering, blinking

Searching for a visual other than my own reflection

I am tired of seeing "that"

When I look at "it"

All I see is her hands striking my face

His secret parts, kept from the world

Not kept from his sister

I see pain


Pain


The feeling of the blade

The one moment where the word "feeling" makes most sense

Where I think I've felt it for the first time

The first time I held it

Close to me

I was at peace.


Peace for myself, not for others

Questions

I don't answer

I nod

And leave.


I've gotten pretty good at that

Leaving

It's the only thing I learned from my father

To be physically present but otherwise absent

To be numb

I've made a habit of leaving.


People always ask me why I complain about loneliness

When I am the cause

I tell them I am not at home in my skin

I have no place to invite them.


Them


The ones I thought would answer a text

A call

Declined.


My sister

The younger version of myself

The girl I used to be

Part of who I still am.


My sister

My whole heart

Heartbroken.


I tell myself and others I am over losing her

I am not

I keep her picture next to my bed

Under a sheet

Next to my hand while I sleep

For the comfort that maybe someday she will know

Just how much I've loved her

How much I still love her.


But just as I go to sleep every night

I am reminded...


My mother

One part abused, one part abuser

A contradiction

Caring? Never

Hopeless.

I ignore her.


My sister

A part of my mother

Myself

A part of nothing.


Nothing


A black wall of nothingness

Hopeless in all ways

Dark.


My hands have touched many suicide "notes"

Many letters to others

Many papers.

But I do not end it

Because in a way

It ended awhile ago.


I am a skeleton

A lifeless body without will to live

The will they stole

They stole my life.


They

My abusers

Doubling as family


Depression.


I walk to class every morning

With nothing by my side but my shadow

Because no one really loves me


Hell, I don't even love me.


My shadow keeps me company

Watches my every move

Stays by my side

Sure, my shadow may leave when I enter darkness


But at least it comes back

The next day.

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