Smiling Through Tears – Sisterly Advice for a Betrothed Brother

June 24 2014 –

My younger brother Dan called two days ago and announced his intentions to get married. He is living in a community on the other side of the country, and we have only spoken a handful of times this year. I tried, oh how I tried, to smile while he told me, but selfish me had big tears and a heavy heart. “You are just a kid, you don’t know her, you are too far away, this is a mistake!!!” I wanted to scold, but I at least had the self-control to bite my tongue, until I hung up. Didn’t he just call me last year from Bali while taking his Raw Food Chef’s course? Just after hitch hiking to South America and right before quitting his architectural design job to volunteer in a grocery store?? He can’t get married…he’s not ready, he hasn’t settled down, he….he still needs his big sister….doesn’t he?

Light bulb. Forget HE’S not ready…. I’m not ready. I can’t bandaid this one, brush him off and say good luck on the next adventure. Being recently divorced is probably blurring my vision a bit. So I breathed. I went out and played a game of baseball (3 pitch – we won, barely) and slept (kind of). 

I woke up yesterday wishing I could take back my sniffles and give him a big hug. Remembering it would take me 3 days to drive to him, I hugged him with words:

Hi Brother Dan,

I want you to know that I am also very happy for you and I wish you and your girlfriend all the happiness in the world. I know I was getting a little weepy on the phone, and I don’t want you to think it is because I disapprove. I am just having a hard time adjusting to the fact that you are so far away and I am no longer needed in your life the same way. I always loved helping you out and getting your excited phone calls when you had found the next ‘big baventure’. I guess I feel a bit left out of this one, and it is hard to see you so grown up and settled, because that means I won’t be getting those ‘please fix my resume’ phone calls. But I take solace in the fact that if you don’t need my help then you are happy, healthy and safe, and that is the most important.

Dan, I think you will make a wonderful husband. You are genuinely kind and selfless and I know that you will put your wife, family and friends ahead of yourself. You will make everyone around you feel special and bring a great motivation to them, as well.

Allow me the honour of giving you some lasting, last minute, and one last time advice:

  • Remember to listen, not only to your new friends, but also to yourself, there is a very loud voice in your head and he is very wise and only has your best interests at heart.
  • Remember to slow down, enjoy every moment. Let life come to you, instead of rushing to get to the next big thing.
  • Remember where you came from, not just your ‘unique’ family members, but all of the people and places you got to know along the way. Each of those people have made up a little part  of who you are, and your experiences have shaped you in the man you are today. You would not be where you are without all of the trials, triumphs and failures.
  • Remember that you are remarkable. You are the only you in the world. Completely unique and changing and maturing each day. You don’t fit in a mold, you create the mold. You are a super-hero to my children, my little brother, Crissi’s big brother, a son, a grandson, a community member, and now possibly a husband. Each role is just another part of you, drawing on different strengths. Make sure you keep balanced, grow a little every day.
  • Remember to laugh, and laugh with your whole face and belly.

Big Sister Julie

This morning I breathed again and really smiled. How could I have worried so much? He had the best big sister in the world, giving him the best advice…he is going to be just fine.  And so am I.

photo from

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