Saturday, September 10, 2016

Brotherly. Love.

In November of 2015 my older brother married his fiancee in a beautiful chapel, overlooking the rugged South Coast of Wellington.

There's something surreal about watching the first child of your generation get married. The photographs of parents' weddings, aunts' and uncles' weddings when they were in their early 20s come to mind. It is strange to be reminded of these pictures in the midst of re-creating them, knowing that these will one day be the pictures that his children will thumb through in awe of how their parents looked when they were younger. They will marvel at the style of our suits, the way in which we wore our hair, the magnificence of their mother in her red wedding dress.

One day my own children will look at them and think how strangely different Uncle Campbell and Aunt Linda look on their wedding day in comparison to their modern day middle aged counterparts. It is a strange eventuality to suddenly become aware of in the midst of the most joyous of occasions.

Perhaps I'm full of shit and entirely too fanciful. 

At any rate, my brother, the oldest of myself and all our first cousins, married the love of his life in November of 2015 in a beautiful little chapel that comes part in parcel with an equally gorgeous reception venue, both of which overlook the rugged South Coast of Wellington.

I had the honour of being the Best Man which meant aside from organising the bachelor party where myself and several of his closest friends attacked him with paintball guns over the course of several hours, I also had to deliver a speech at the reception.

The ceremony was a lovely coming together of cultures, the bride was stunning in red as per Chinese tradition and my brother glowed in his tux in a way I've never seen before.

As I suppose is a side-effect of growing up, occasions where the whole extended family gets together are few and far between so it was lovely to have everyone there in celebration. In particular it's always fun to see the cousins I grew up with who I'm lucky to hang out with once a year, us all being spread out across the country and across the world from each other.

The reception was, as expected, an emotional experience given the combination of Campbell being the first of our generation to get married and the somewhat tumultuous way in which we grew up, our parents splitting up when I was about 4 and Cams about 6.

Not long before speeches, my grandparents on Dad's side had asked me to include an official "welcome to the family" from them to Linda which I agreed to do for the sake of honouring their sense of tradition.

I spoke about growing up together, what brotherhood meant in the context of my relationship with Campbell over the years. We were raised by our mother who worked full time which often left us with only each other for company. This meant that I relied heavily on Campbell for advice, protection and help from our days in primary school through to my first couple of years in high school. I'd like to think he needed me as much as I needed him through much of growing up.

Anyone who knows me now, knows that I'm a fiercely independent person. I move in the direction of my dreams and I try to ignore the voice in the back of my head whispering negativity in my ear as much as I possibly can. I am unafraid to take chances and I'm unashamed at how little I have figured out at this stage in my life.

I owe a lot of that attitude to having grown up in a supportive family environment, and knowing that if I really fuck things up, I have an amazing big brother who always has my back and is perfectly happy not to tell Mum.

I managed to get through my speech without totally losing my shit, and only cried a little at the end when I'd said pretty much everything I wanted to say.

My parents also had heartfelt words to offer, I can't say I kept it together too well during their time with the mic.

The reception was capped off by an awesome dinner, lots of dancing, and a lot more drinking than I maybe should have done. I spent most of the night after the formalities hanging out with cousins but managed to first do a round of quick catch-ups with pretty much everyone, and some introductions to the few that hadn't had the chance to meet Clem yet.

Credit to Campbell and Linda, they pulled off one hell of a party! If either/both of you are reading this, congratulations and may your years together be full of joy.

It's a strange feeling to have grown up with a brother, to have seen him in so many different lights, relied on him for so many things over the years and to see him at the happiest I've ever known him to be, promise himself for life to the woman he loves. Truly a unique and remarkable combination of emotions.

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