She looked around at the sea of faces that she didn’t know. Most of them were foreign to her and in a way, that gave her courage. It’s been a long day. Beautiful, but long. Her family was bigger now and would only continue to grow. Her brown eyes land on her brother at the center table and stay there, captivated by the way he is whispering to his new wife.
She feels the smile tugging at her lips and can’t help but to relax. She’s been waiting for this moment and now that it’s here it feels as though a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. Slowly, she stands. The younger of her newly minted sisters picks up her spoon and not-so-gently taps it on her glass. She freezes for a moment as all of the eyes in the hall land on her but, when the oldest of her new sisters wraps a warm hand around her own, she relaxes.
When she speaks it is hesitant but strong.
“It’s been a long time since my brother and I have been surrounded by this many people. I never thought we’d be this lucky again. When our parents died, it felt like the world had ended. It was just the two of us and I was still too young to really understand what that meant. I thought that once you graduated high school you became an adult. You automatically had this lexicon of maturity installed into your brain and that if you made a bad decision it was just because you were too dumb or too stubborn to listen to reason.
I didn’t realize that, like me, my brother was just as lost and alone as I was but so much more was expected of him. I did my best not to take him for granted. I watched him transfer schools, abandon the life he was building to step into the role of CEO of our parent’s company and still manage to make it home to have dinner with me every night. He sat with me until my homework was done and left again after I had gone to bed.
He was always there when I needed him, even when I did my best to push him away. There were times that I thought I hated him and times where I did my best to hurt him. He bore all of it with the strength of parent. A parent he should never have had to be.
You asked me once, Lizzie, why I wanted to be your friend. I told you that nothing you had said about him was anything I hadn’t said to his face. That was true, but it was more than that. I watched him change. The day our parents died he became a new person. He buried himself in order to do what he had to do to pick up the pieces of our lives.
The day he met you was the day he began digging himself out. I got to watch the lights come back on. He was no longer this person who had only his responsibilities to live for. He was finally thinking about himself again. I had never seen him look at anyone the way he looked at you and it was more than I could have asked for.
I felt so guilty, for so long because he had given up so much for me. Now he…we…have you and this brand new family. This group of loving, open, crazy people who saw two orphans and thought they were worth opening their hearts to. I have nothing but admiration and love for you Lizzie because you not only gave me a family, but you gave me back my brother.
William, I am so unbelievably proud of you. You gave up everything for me for so long and seeing you this happy is the best reward I will ever get. Thank you for everything. You deserve all of the happiness in the world and I’m so blessed to be here to share it with you. Mom and dad would have been so proud of the man you have become and this new family you have created.
I love you both so much. Congratulations. I know your future is going to be amazing.”
There was a long silence. Somewhere along the way, tears had worked their way free, but she didn’t care. She had finally been able to say what had been in her heart since the day she began watching Lizzie’s videos. She made an attempt to sink back into her chair but Jane’s hand kept her firmly in place. She hadn’t noticed Lizzie and William make their way over to her until she was enveloped in arms and tears. There was crying and laughter and as she felt her brother gently take her face and kiss her forehead she knew he was back for good.
We should never diminish the power of fictional stories. Do not apologize for being moved by movies, TV shows, theater, art, books, or even a webseries that puts out 5 minute episodes twice a week. Jump into them whole-heartedly and let them transform you. Let them be your friends. Why not? They want to be yours.