Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Brother Dan's Wedding Toast

I was the best man at my brother's wedding. Here was my toast for him and his wonderful wife, Caryn.

Dan And Caryn Ouwehand's Wedding Toast

Don't worry. It's shorter.

I remember one day going down the stairs to the room Dan and I used to share, and being greeted by a
funny kind of sound.
Rustle rustle rustle.
Rustle rustle rustle.

I was probably eleven years old then, and I opened the door to Dan, about eight years old, lying on the floor beside our bunk bed, wrapped in a sleeping bag, looking up at me with big, wide, excited eyes.

"Hey Rob! If you're wrapped in a sleeping bag, it doesn't even hurt to fall out of the bed!"

So I did what any wiser, older brother would do: I grabbed a sleeping bag and joined the fun.

We dumped ourselves off that top bunk or about twenty minutes until Dan's zipper got stuck on the bedframe and broke. When the zipper broke, we had to stop.

I tell this story because that was always Dan: he was the one jumping off and over things, riding his bike all around town and taking the dare where I'd shy away from it.

It's a bold step to get married. It takes courage to choose a person and entrust that one person with your future.

Dan and Caryn, though, have set up a solid foundation for their marriage. Their lines of communication are almost ridiculously open. I've spent some time with them, just relaxing and hanging out with them, and all of a sudden, Dan makes a joke, and Caryn doesn't laugh, and they start Communicating -- with a BIG big C.

"Oh. Sorry. You didn't like my joke?" Dan says.
"It wasn't funny," Caryn says.
"Not funny, like, inappropriate, or not funny, like,
not funny?"
"No, you know what? It's OK. It was funny. Really."
"But you didn't laugh. . . "

and so they go in circles as if it's a race to each be more accomodating than the other. It's silly to tease them about trying to hard to communicate excellently. In truth, it's like teasing a sprinter for having long legs.

I really respect Dan and Caryn's relationship, and the amount of commitment and effort they put into it. They work hard to have a healthy relationship: I was talking to Dan one night about Caryn, and how much I like her, and their way together, and he said it best when he told me "It's great because . . . we have a lot of fun together, but we can also solve problems." That's exactly it. They shore up each other's weaknesses, and encourage each other's strengths in amazing ways.

I've had the chance to see how they lift each other up and support each other in difficult times. As most of you know, Dan's and my mother can't be here today; a few months after Dan and Caryn got engaged, we learned that Jane Ouwehand has incurable stomach cancer. Most of the relatives on Dan's side that are here today, are planning to travel out to BC after the wedding, to visit Jane, because she's no longer strong enough to ravel here and see the wedding.

For our family this year, the joys and sorrows of life got mashed right up against each other. I know this is a bittersweet journey for many people here at the wedding, but I've also seen, because of these times, what a great support system Dan and Caryn have here in Red Deer, in their church, and especially with each other.

Dan and Caryn have built their love on trust and honesty and, moreover, on God. God has always been an important part of their relationship and their lives, so now, instead of diving off a bunk bed, Dan and Caryn are jumping together into a lifelong commitment, wrapped not in a sleeping bag, but in God's goodness and love -- and God's zipper never breaks.

Not many people get to speak for their mother and their brother with a speech, both in the space of a few months. I'm proud and honoured that I could do so, and I will never forget having the chance to do so.


No comments: