The big sister's toast.

I'm switching up Friday posts a bit, because I want to share the toast I gave at my little brother's rehearsal dinner one week ago in New Orleans. I had fun writing it, and it garnered way more laughter than I expected, which was fun for this gal who definitely did not get her brother's comedic side. All the more apt that writing about him would bring it out in me. We had a fantastic weekend celebrating M&M, and can't wait to see what's next.

Mason is the cause of my first memory, and it's a bad one.

For those of you who don't know, he was born on October 30, which meant that I, a toddler, got to spend a couple of nights at Nana and Pop-Pop's house, including Halloween night. I still have an image--may I repeat, the first thing about life that I actually remember on my own-- of the front door opening to reveal a cluster of scary monsters.

And it didn't get better. As you can see from these photos, I was clearly not pleased at the new little thing that was now taking up my parents' attention. [Claire takes time to show the gathered wedding party the two photos that she made sure to print out before leaving for New Orleans.]

I suppose I slowly got over the shock. Mason was annoying, as most little brothers are, but the times I was most frustrated with him were when we'd play one on one basketball and he'd demolish me, even though he was smaller than me. Being the perfectionist older sister, I'd start to "beat up" on him, and he would just laugh and laugh. But we'd also have fun skating on that same patio pretending we were the Mighty Ducks.

Once we hit high school and had pretty much the same friend group, I realized my little brother is pretty cool. He is hilarious, and can always make me laugh. Even though we're two years apart, we got our drivers licenses on the same day (oops, my bad); He introduced me to some of my favorite rap songs, and I would always willingly let him drive us around, blasting Outkast or Flo Rida around Decatur.

Along with these great qualities, though you may not be able to tell from his teeny tiny first grade level handwriting, he is clever and sharp, incredibly smart. For a kid who hated school, he sure does well at it. He has a strong moral compass, and has always known what he believes and why he believes it. If he wasn't so set on PT school, I'd say he would have a good career in social justice--and maybe he'll find a way to do that too.

Of course, being not just a man but an Asbury man, he loves sports, and being an Asbury man from Atlanta, he isn't surprised when they disappoint him. But he keeps coming back. How many Saturdays growing up did I spend at Briarlake soccer field, basketball court, even for one season the baseball field? And then he found tennis, which catapulted him into high school and through college and beyond- without which he wouldn't have made many of the friends in this room. As an Asbury woman who also grew up with sports ingrained in my psyche, I'll never forget sharing my experience of being Steph Curry's college classmate with my NBA-loving, Duke-hating brother; getting to introduce the two of you is still one of the best gifts I'm grateful I could give. (We won't talk about last Sunday night.)

Mason dated a lot more than I did in high school, so when he told us that he was "kinda" dating this girl from college, I took it in stride. Then we found out her name was Macie, which, not gonna lie, made us all do a double take and then laugh a little. The best part may have been the first summer they were dating, in 2009, when they showed up to a party both wearing the exact same yellow Ralph Lauren polo. Twinsies!

But it was clear that Macie wasn't just any other girl, and I could tell that as I spent more time with the two of them on trips and weekends at home over the next seven (!) years. They have the same sense of humor, which is what stands out to me most, because if Mason is going to spend the rest of his life with someone, she needs to have a sense of humor. Macie also pushes him to be his best, and vice versa. It's wonderful to see how content Mason is when he's with Macie. They support and ground each other, and have succeeded in dorms, long distance, and now as the proud parents of two cats (which you can officially thank me for, since I'm the one who found Lucky on the side of the road at the beach).

 For me, Macie "officially" joined the family when she was so involved in helping to care for our grandfather after his stroke before he was moved to hospice care. She was in nursing school at the time, and would go over to Emory ICU when she had time and be with my family and help the nurses. This is when Mason and I both lived out of state, and so it meant extra much to know that Macie could be there when we couldn't. My favorite story is when Pop-Pop-- still feisty, though he couldn't speak-- tried to pull out his catheter, and Macie had a fierce but silent fight with him to make sure it stayed in. I wish I could have seen that! Your care of him and our family during his final days made me really feel like you were part of the family. He called you his little New Orleans girl, and I know he's celebrating with us in spirit.

Mason, I'm so proud of you and I'm so happy for you both. Sean and I want you two to know that we'll always be here to encourage you, listen to you, and have fun with you. You're the best brother ever, and I'm so happy to be getting an official sister! May you have a long and happy marriage, full of laughter. Cheers.