This week marks one of the more difficult times in my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. No, it is not because of anything that has happened to me, nor does it have to do with my NGO, my house, or anything to do with Botswana. It is because this weekend is the weekend that my little sister is getting married. My real little sister (not a host family member), in the United States. And I am in Botswana. Of course, I knew that this would happen—we both knew it—when I accepted my Peace Corps invitation, we knew her wedding date, which has been set for over a year, was within the three-month “lockdown” period, when volunteers are not permitted to take any leave. But it doesn’t make me want to be there any less, or feel any less terrible that I cannot be. It’s one of those days that makes some people say Peace Corps service is incredibly selfish and others say it is incredibly selfless, but personally, I just think it’s life—my life was calling me to be here, and hers was calling her to take this huge step this weekend, and neither of us could really help it.
That said, if I weren’t the worst sister ever, I would have been her Maid of Honor, and made the big toast at her reception. Admittedly, it’s always nice when you get to avoid making a rather personal statement in front of a fairly large crowd, but this is one of those few times where I actually wish I were able to risk making a fool of myself publicly in order to honor my sister properly. Of course after the beautiful and poetic toast she delivered at my wedding (yes, for those who didn’t know, I have been married and divorced…good times…), nothing I could say would even begin to live up…but remember, she is an English major, and I haven’t been in school in years! Nonetheless, I wanted to post something for the occasion. For the record, I’d probably shorten it and clean it up a bit, were I to actually give it aloud (and I’d also have the opportunity to have others look it over), but it’s the internet, and I’m in Africa, so I can say what I want :o). And for the record, I’d rather post this on the actual wedding day, but internet is not reliable enough here to risk postponing posting this and missing the big day! So, without further ado, here it is, for Laura and Denny:
As sisters, Laura and I have been through many difficult times—Laura chasing me with “dirty” hands (Laura, you know what I am referencing, and yes, I am referencing it at your wedding—could you expect any less?) and me letting Laura have a “dirty” face in front of Hanson (which may or may not have been intentional sabotage). We have also been through too many wonderful times to even begin to reference. As such, as we grow up I can’t help but to be the crazy big sister, plagued with constant nagging sisterly concern because I want so much for you to get everything you deserve out of life, Laura.
So, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that when you and Denny first exchanged promise rings in high school, I couldn’t help but feel a concern that you had seen a few too many John Hughes movies, which always have glorious climaxes, but precariously cut off right before “real life” sets in. And after all, most high school students could not even manage to commit to a major, let alone to another person, for life.
But this was not just any high school student or just any high school couple. This was Laura and Denny. And as they say, cheesy though it may be, when you know, you know. And regardless of their age, they knew. And (really savor what I am about to say; you know how rarely it happens) they couldn’t have been more right, and my overprotective sisterly instincts couldn’t have been more wrong.
Laura, I could not even dream up anyone better for you (and I have a pretty vivid imagination). Over the years, Denny has demonstrated his love for you time and time again. Not only accepted our crazy family, but jumped right in. He has been to Hanson concerts (and even chatted it up with Zac), persevered through the entire Gilmore Girls series, and undoubtedly given many an opinion on various crochet and cross-stitching projects. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.
Denny, I have considered you family for so many years, that it doesn’t feel right to say “welcome” today—you’ve been like a brother ever since the first time you witnessed one of Laura and my girltalk sessions, and not only suffered through it, but actually participated. So instead of “welcoming” you to the family, I’ll just say it’s official—you’re stuck with us! But I know that the happiness that you and Laura share will make it all worth it.
And so, as you enter the commitment of marriage, of giving and receiving, etc., I wish you nothing but love, laughter, and joy. And I know you will have it. You have shown us all a happier ending, and given us more hope for finding true love than any John Huges movies ever could. So let us all raise our glasses to celebrate the union of Laura and Dennis Pelton.
CONGRATULATIONS, MR. AND MRS. PELTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Well, almost, Mr. and Mrs. Pelton, at the date of this posting…but what can you do?!)
P.S. NO stealing my speech, Lindsay! Now it’s all on you! Don’t let the bridesmaid team down!!!