Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A toast can be so much more than a toast

Always plus one. That's the name of this blog because that's how my life is now. There's Mitch, there's Miles, there's Elliott, there's me. So it looks like three now. But it's four. It's plus one. Always.

My little sister Paige got married on Saturday in St. Michaels, Maryland on the Miles River at the Maritime Museum. Miles' name was everywhere in the town, and most of all his spirit was everywhere...no matter where we go, he's there for me, too. Oh, how I miss Miles during the ordinary, everyday moments...like right now as I listen to his Rockabye Baby CD as I type, remembering the miracle of being able to see him, touch him, love him in person. And the big moments--like Paige's wedding--oh, he should have been there.

Yes, he was there in spirit, I know. As we looked out over the water, especially at night, with the stars and sky and wind...that's one of the places we have to find him now. The truth is, his name is fading away more and more with friends and family. Not with me because never will Miles fade for me. But I do protect his name, his memory, but I call out his spirit and my love for him when I can.

And so during the "Best Woman" speech (Paige graciously acknowledged that "Matron of Honor" makes me sound too, well, matronly and a million years old, so she renamed me the "Best Woman" like the "Best Man"...so much better), I truly called out Miles' name because if I am honest with how Paige has impacted my life and shared my joys and sorrows, Mitch and Miles and Elliott all have to be there. So I did it. Sure, I stuck to a light, humorous toast...because that's me...but I was also honest with emotion, including tears in my voice...because that's me now too. So with 150 people watching, I acknowledged Paige's role in standing my our sides with Miles in the hospital. How she loved him. How she rooted for him. How we all wish he were here. We love you, Miles.

This is my speech...making this the longest post ever...no need to read on, but I'm including it just because it feels right in marking where life has been taking me this past week...

~ ~

Paige Loves Beef Bouillon:
A Toast to Paige on Her Wedding Day
September 17, 2011

Oh, Paiger. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.  You live life with such spirit, such intensity, and such spunk that it’s easy to celebrate you today on your wedding day…and very easy to tell a few stories about how everything you do is done in the most contagiously spirited, memorable way and sometimes sometimes to the extreme.

Yes, I remember Paige’s flair for life being evident in our board game playing at an early age. Paige, Drew and I would play the board game Risk.  It was rather calm as we rolled the dice, playing for hours, taking snack breaks while monitoring each other to make sure no one disturbed the board. But pretty much every game ended in the exact same way…and that was like this…Drew slowly crept toward total world domination until the moment that Paige had enough and the game would come, literally, to a crashing halt. Paige would slam the entire board against the wall, the pieces flying everywhere, the edges of the dice getting chipped yet again on the bricks of the fireplace…I would be laughing hysterically as Drew tried to send Paige to her room to think about what she had done.…ah, yes, one doesn’t forget board games with Paige.

And there were also less competitive games in our early years. Paige and I cooked up a storm in our play kitchen…our play kitchen had an oven that creaked when you opened it and a sink for washing the play dishes and a few plastic food items like a plastic egg and a plastic hot dog and by the way that plastic hot dog had been chewed up—not by me, I promise, and we never had a dog so that can’t be it, AND it is an absolute fact that there was a three month period during which Paige’s love for hotdogs resulted in her eating one every day for breakfast, heating those suckers up in the microwave every day…so you decide whom the likely hot dog chewer culprit is. But this story isn’t about hot dogs, it’s about beef bouillon. Mom would save all kinds of little empty containers from the real kitchen so we could use them in ours. And our favorite was a completely foul smelling beef bouillon cube container. It was empty and had been cleaned many times. But still the pungent smell remained and Paige and I got such joy from forcing each other to sniff it. We would often take breaks during our kitchen play to say, “here sniff this” while uncapping it and shoving it under the other one’s nose. I remember just how Paige’s nose would scrunch up, her eyes closing tight, while yelling out in disgust. And then I’d say…”just one more time” before she would laugh and laugh and always go for the second sniff because it was just too funny not to.

And then in high school. as we blossomed into real maturity, Paige was the pitcher and I was the catcher. As you would expect, we warmed up before games out in the outfield while the rest of the team was getting ready in the infield. What you might not expect is that I thought that Paige pitched better when she was a little angry.  Not a ton, just a little ticked off. So naturally I would say a few things to set her off. I may have gone too far that day—after all it was our first game with our brand new team in Chapel Hill so the stakes were high. So maybe I said too much. Let’s not get caught up in those details-shmetails. We’ll never know. But what I can tell you is that Paige and I ended up nose-to-nose having a few words with each other. And one thing led to another. Paige slapped me across the face and I returned the favor. Or perhaps vice versa. Depends on whom you ask.  We proceeded to join the team huddle and the entire team just turned and stared at us.  Turns out that we made quite the impression on the team as each of us had a red handprint on our faces.

Oh, Paige. Those were good times.

As the older sister, I like to think it was me who taught Paige the important things.  But it’s me who has learned from little Paige about making your opinion KNOWN and living each day with spirit.  It was always Paige I could count on to make life better—what started as using broomsticks as batons in the driveway grew. It was then Paige encouraging me not to ignore the crush I had on Jon Mitchell in college.  And it was then Paige and Bharat who came weekend after weekend to stand by our sides with our sweet Miles in the hospital.  It was Paige who was super nanny for Miles in the hospital, teaching me lyrics to children’s songs for me to sing to Miles in the PICU and now to Elliott.  

Paige, you live life with such spirit and that bubbles over to the rest of us. Bharat, I’m so happy that you recognize that spirit in her…and I wish you luck in handling it. Bharat, you are already an important part of my life, and I’m grateful that Paige recruited you into the family. And I hope to spend plenty of time competing with you and Paige on the golf course. And beating you.

So, Bharat and Paige…not to ruin the surprise, but your wedding present from Mitch and me is a jar of beef bouillon. We forgot to put in a card so hopefully no one else got that for you, too.
And with that, I hope that life brings nothing worse than an occasional slap in the face from your sister or a deep sniff of beef bouillon. But regardless, with all of life’s joys and pains, with all the intensity that comes along or that you create yourself, I know that living life with spirit and living it together is what matters.

Let’s raise a glass to Paige and Bharat and to living life with spirit! 


  1. That's such a beautiful heartfelt speech.

  2. Such a beautiful speech, I'm sure there were many tears and laughs with it! Love the picture of you two together as well, beautiful!