I don't remember the day you were born. To me, you've always been there. I can't remember a day when you weren't a part of my life, my sidekick, the voice of reason when I was being silly, the giver of ideas when I was boring. I DO remember, though, that I learned to read before you did, and there would be times when you wanted to play and I refused. I was lost in a world with ann of green gables or the little house on the prairie, Eventually you learned to read and we would both retreat to our corners, lost in our books. Even now, 25 years later, when we see each other one of the first questions is "what have you read lately?" Normally for you it's something serious, grown up, about economics. For me? Not so much.
There was this one time, years ago, when you convinced me that if I put milk in a jar and shook it really hard it would taste like a milkshake. You lied. It tastes like foamy milk. And that is disgusting. There was another time when you ALMOST had me convinced that you were older and I was younger. Almost. I didn't quite fall for it, though. I didn't want to the younger one, so I was going to resist.
Little known fact: you are FREAKISHLY stubborn. Every fight or battle of wills that I can recall from when we were kids ends with you winning. One time we were fighting over who had to put away the wagon, and I was tired of giving in to you, so I flat out refused. That danged wagon sat in the driveway for THREE DAYS. I think one of the parents ended up putting it away?
Remember when we pretended that we were poor people? Our little pretend house was on the hillside next to the trash pile, and we used clamshells for our dishes. I don't know why we decided "playing poor" was a fun thing--don't most people pretend to be rich? But we did that, too. With our dressup clothes. Our LEGENDARY dressup collection. I blame mom for the fact that we're now all clotheshorses: we seriously had the best dress up collection of anyone in our ENTIRE homeschool co-op. As well as an entire shed in which to keep them. And when we weren't playing dressup with ourselves, we were using the skinniest of our baby dolls (no, barbies weren't allowed) and pieces of fabric draped and pinned and creating fashion shows like that. Fact: an actual baby dress can be folded and converted into quite an impressive empire-waist, off the shoulder gown for a smaller doll. I have no idea why I remember that, but I do.
And then we got older, and we put aside the dressup clothes. Well, sort of. I guess we just got less extravagant. We started playing "dress up and pretend this family is perfect, this life is perfect, this is what is expected of us." We were good at that, too. We didn't know it wasn't normal. Remember that conversation we had, in Oklahoma City, where one of us broached the thought: "Maybe it's not normal to spend your entire childhood worried that your mom is going to leave, knowing its a very real possibility. Maybe that's had a part in shaping who we are." We honestly, genuinely, had never considered that before.
Throughout all of this you've remained of the most focused, motivated people I know. Despite the fact that no one encouraged you to, because "women didn't need it" you got your undergrad, earned your CFP, and start grad school next spring, all while working full-time running your own business. I am continually in awe of that.
I think that if there were one verse that, in my mind, encapsulates you, it's that one from Psalms: "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? ...He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not...he that doeth these things shall never be moved." You've taken on incredible challenges that you didn't have to, and the stuck with them, because you're a woman of your word. Or maybe because you're stubborn. (see above.)
So it is not a small thing that you stood in front of us yesterday, pledging your life to this man, this James, this wookie. He knows you, your neuroses, your foibles, and your strengths, and he still loves you. Perhaps more incredibly, he knows your sisters and yet still loves you. Above all, he's convinced you that it's worth taking a chance on being hurt. Again. That much. For that, I salute him.