By Lindsay Steele
My younger sister, Sara, got married earlier this month to her longtime boyfriend, Aaron. As matron of honor, I had a front-row seat to their wedding and reception. I suppose it was a role given to me by default — I’m her only sibling — but at the same time, it is a role that I did not take for granted.
As we grew up, we struggled with the challenges of having very different personalities and interests. She was good at sports and I was good at music. I was more like dad — candid, book smart and (sometimes overly) sensitive. She was more like mom — stoic, street-smart and a natural leader. While mom and dad’s differences strengthened their relationship, Sara and I struggled to understand each other. That was tough for both of us. We wanted to be friends, I think, but we really didn’t know how to do that. I wanted her to be more like me and vice versa. About the only things we had in common were our parents and the same goofy sense of humor.
As we became adults, things changed a bit. We endured dad’s death in 2007, which made us stronger and helped us realize the importance of the family bond. We learned we could work together, like the time Sara was home from college and a tree fell in the backyard during a storm while mom was visiting a sick relative out of town. Not wanting to burden mom further, Sara and I enlisted the help of neighbors and took care of the mess. Only when mom was already heading home did we tell her about the storm.
Sara and I realize we have more in common than we thought. We regularly bond over our poodle-mix dogs, which we got around the same time three years ago. We love having silly group text message conversations with mom, my aunt Marie and cousin Jamie. We both love the glamorous fashion of the 1920s and, go figure, I married someone who not only loves sports but writes about them for a living.
Probably the most significant development, however, has been our ability to accept each other’s differences. Aaron has been a big help. I say that he’s the perfect guy for her, but he was the perfect guy for our family, too. He brought out the best in both Sara and me! He impressed me with the fact that he cared about what I thought of him.
I was naturally excited when Aaron proposed to Sara about 18 months ago. They celebrated the sacrament of marriage at Sacred Heart Church in Peoria, Ill., on May 9.
Franciscan friar, Father Larry Zurek, O.F.M., celebrated the Mass. I observed a joyful congregation from where I stood on the marble steps. My family loves Aaron as much as I do. We couldn’t wait to make him an official member of the family! Likewise, Aaron’s family adores Sara.
I always cry a lot at weddings. I figured I’d have a hard time “keeping it together” at Sara’s wedding, especially considering how far we have come in our relationship with each other. But with so much to do — and trying not to fall in my long dress — I was too distracted to become emotional. The waterworks started at the reception during what would have been the father-daughter dance. Sara told me before the wedding that times like this make her miss dad a lot. She surprised the guests, and me, by changing into mom’s wedding dress and dancing with her to one of my dad’s favorite songs by Ray LaMontagne. Sara’s childhood best friend, Jennifer, put her arms around me and we cried watching them dance. I told Sara that dad would have loved Aaron as much as we do, and he would have been proud of her for choosing such a great man.
I didn’t think of it then, but I know he’d be proud of how far Sara and I have come as sisters, too.
(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)