Your younger sister gets married. Now what?

If you’re lucky enough, you will get invited to and attend plenty of weddings in your life. But you haven’t been to one until your younger sister is the bride. Not many things are that humbling.

What follows is a version of some of the things that I talked about in a speech on Oct. 4, 2014, a day after my younger sister Mariane Blouin-Gascon married to Edward Mesias in Newark. It made me feel many feels, and I spoke with no notes but I think that I remember the gist of what I said. (The heart never forgets.) Readers will forgive me, today, for adding a few more things. I am better at articulating my thoughts when I write them down.

It was the perfect wedding, which is not the same as saying that it was perfect. On the Friday morning, Oct. 3, 2014, the owner of the restaurant where we had made a reservation for about 30 people the following evening called the groom- and bride-to-be to say that he was bankrupt and closing immediately.

Good timing and cool story bro, but now what? I think that this also part of why I say it was the perfect wedding. Life threw something at us, and we fixed it. 

Mariane and Edward get married at the Newark City Hall, a building outside of which we take plenty of pictures. Then we go inside and sit on a bench in a room for some time. A clerk then asks for the witnesses of all 11 soon-to-be newlyweds to come sign the wedding papers, so I go with Edward’s brother, and then a judge arrives and asks for each family to come to the front when it is their turn.

We are family No. 9 and I remember wondering, as I am looking at the first eight families, just how private and intimate can this be. If the judge has the same speech for everyone, and all of us waiting are still in the same room and hearing and seeing everything, then it must be pretty tough to get lost in the moment and make the moment our own. Right? Yeah, no actually it’s fairly easy. You just stand beside your sister and when the judge tells you to, you give the bride the ring she’ll give to her husband, and soon enough they kiss. And the moment is perfect. And you let some tears fall down your face, because sometimes smiling is not enough.

We all try to make sense of the world that we live in even though we know that there’s nothing to make sense of. It’s a fluke that we are here on this Earth, yet that’s not the same as saying that there’s nothing to understand about our world. Rather, it means that the one thing we have to do is find the one person we want to spend our time with not understanding anything and living out this most wonderful of flukes. And hold on forever.

The next morning, it’s raining when we wake up and we realize that it is too bad, because does that mean that the wedding pictures will get rained out? We never get our answer because at precisely 3 p.m., when Mariane and Edward are set to take their pictures, the sky clears. Seriously. Like, 3 p.m. almost to the second. They have the photographer for two hours and there will not be a single hint of cloud for those two hours. It’s cheesy, you think, but you shut up because that’s how all weddings are. The Gods haven’t cleared the sky specifically for you, but it feels like they have. How could they not, when they looked at Mariane and Edward? This marriage is good for both of them—Mariane and Edward, not the Gods—and grounded in the reality of love and life but, today especially, it’s time to let it grow and prosper. In order to take off, you first need a clear sky.

A few hours later, you’re sitting at the wedding table at the new restaurant, beside your little brother and a woman you do not know, and that’s when you reflect. You look at everyone present in Newark, some coming from Montreal like you, others from Newark, and someone like Edward’s mother who flew in from Ecuador, and you are humbled at just how much love that means in one place. All of Edward’s and Mariane’s loved ones are here, even those who couldn’t be—your grandmother passed away just six months ago, and you cry along with your sister when she opens a first wedding gift and it’s one of the first paintings your grandma ever made. Your heart is full, because it’s love all around.

Then, you reflect some more. First, on how proud you are, yes. But also on love. You will say your speech shortly, so that’s all you can think about. Love. Love and how much you love life despite the fact that your love life, especially in contrast to this perfect little idyll, is just such a mess. But still, your thoughts aren’t negative. Or rather, it’s not like it dampens your mood. You’re just saying this privately, to yourself and for yourself. You’re not complaining, just stating a fact.  There are times, or days, when you complain but not today. Instead of “Damnit, I really can’t believe how little I have,” it’s different today. “Sure, I have nada now,” you tell yourself, “but one day I won’t.” That’s what this marriage does.

All marriages do that, perhaps. They’re a way for everyone present to look within him- or herself and say, without envy, that one day they want their own special day, whenever it may come, to be just like this one. It’s inspiring—this marriage is convincing you that your day will happen. Who cares when. This marriage is a reminder that while we live in a deeply flawed and unfair society, our world is also an equal one in a very specific way—in that we are all born and hope and long for love.

Right now you’re a witness to the perfect love story and you think that yours can become that as well. Of course, not everyone gets the perfect love story, you know that, but you let your heart forget for a moment. And that’s a thought for tomorrow anyway. Today, you are celebrating your younger sister’s wedding, just like everyone else. You have spent your entire life trying to teach her what you could about whatever, but you have nothing left to teach her.