A Toast For My Brother On His Wedding Day

When he got engaged, my brother asked me to be his Best Man. While it was an untraditional thing to ask a woman to be your Best Man, we did follow tradition a little more closely in other ways. For instance, my brother also asked me to give a toast. The following was the Best Man’s toast I gave at the wedding reception. (For context, it is important to know that my brother and his wife are huge nerds about their two cats.)

I have a picture taped to the wall of my bathroom. I look at it every day when I’m getting ready. It was taken on a farm in the Midwest in the 1990s. The picture has green grass and a wooden picnic bench. You can see some pink and yellow summer wildflowers if you squint. But those aren’t the reasons I’m mentioning it right now.

I’m mentioning it because sitting on the bench are baby me and baby Nick. Well, we’re not quite babies. I’m guessing that Nick is about 4 years old, and I’m about 6. We’re facing out on the bench and not looking at the camera. It’s a snapshot, taken on real film that you had to develop; it’s not a hashtag selfie. Instead of mugging for the camera, we’re looking down at what we’re holding.

Each of us is holding a tiny orange and white kitten. Everything about our little selves is focused entirely on our respective kittens. We are taking as much care as our tiny bodies can muster, and we are clearly in love with them. It is one of my favorite versions of my brother: loving, tender, and present. I love seeing Nick this way.

This is why I love seeing Nick with Alexis. When he is with her, he has that same look about him. To be clear, I am not saying that Alexis is a cat. I am saying that she evokes this same loving, tender presence in Nick. We all got to see this tonight during their wedding ceremony. I am so grateful that Nick has found someone who brings out this best version of himself. I’m so grateful that he’s found someone to hold cats with, both literally and metaphorically.

So please raise your glasses in a toast to Nick and Alexis. May you be loving, tender, and present to each other for years and years to come. To Nick and Alexis. And cats.

Minneapolis writer Words by Emily’s photograph of her and her brother as children

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, Verywell Mind, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com.

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