Dear M,

I started this the day you announced you were engaged, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized your sister will read the speech at the wedding. Your sister will do amazing. Goodness knows I wouldn’t have made it through a speech without crying.

Neither of us are olympic medalists in expressing ourselves face to face, but I have you to thank for teaching me to express it through writing. So here’s the speech I didn’t have to give:

For those of you who didn’t have the privilege of knowing the two of us as middle schoolers, we were office assistants once a week so our secretary could eat lunch with her fellow staff members. It was a privilege, as you not only got to answer the phones, but you also got access to the ancient dinosaur of a computer. The first day in office, M told me she was writing a book. I read the two pages of her tightly packed words with wonder. I didn’t know writing for fun was something a middle schooler could do. I asked if we could start one together—tell a story where we switched back and forth chapter after chapter, each writing for a character. With our newly minted google email accounts, we sat down behind the office desk and opened a shared google document. We couldn’t commit to a title, so we called the white blank page “The Twin Story.”

The character I poured my middle school soul into was a boy named Oliver. He was invisible to the world, just a disembodied voice in the busy city of London. Strangely enough, he broke his nose in the first chapter, something that had just recently happened to me at swim practice. The character was motivated by a deep loneliness. He needed someone to see him, the invisible boy. He needed a friend.

You chose a girl named Poppy, raised by nuns, where she had access to all the knowledge she could ever want. She could read a hundred languages and speak seven of them. She could play any instrument. And yet your chapter one was full of Poppy packing her bags and heading out on her own, ready to find out who she was outside of her parental figures and books and music scores.

They run into each other in a train station. Oliver is seen by someone for the first time in his life—Poppy, in true middle school fashion, is his sister.

I’ll spare you all the details. It was not a well written story. The newly discovered siblings traipse all over the world. In a whirlwind of events, they get separated. Poppy meets a boy–tall, with blond hair, strong, and most definitely the supervillain of the story. Nevertheless, it is a middle school story. They fall in love.

M, I saw your hopes and dreams in Poppy as we wrote side by side. I saw your adventurous spirit, your love-hate relationship with your mind, your hope for someone to sweep you off your feet. As your orchestra stand partner, I saw your creativity, your grace, your ability to lead. As your friend for almost fifteen years, I saw your ability to change someone for the better, because you changed me. Because I have always been Oliver. I needed someone to see me. I needed a friend.

I am a better follower of Jesus because of you. I am definitely a better writer. I am a better friend. I am not a better violinist, sadly, but that’s no fault of yours. I am who I am today because you were there at my side, supporting me. I am still sporting a peach fuzz mustache that I refuse to shave even after you did because you were made fun of in 3rd grade because you told me that you were the only girl who had one and it made you ashamed. Every hard thing you did, every harsh comment you faced, I saw how you reacted. I learned how to do hard things at your side.

You have always had this incredible ability to link arms with those close to you, lean over to them, and say “We’re going to do this together. It’s going to be hard, but we’re going to do the hard thing together.”

M’s husband, when I met you I saw you had the same incredible gift, because you had already linked arms with M and told her the same thing. I can’t tell you how long I have prayed for that kind of empathetic, calm, loving, patient presence to come into M’s life. And I can’t tell you how glad I am that you are not a supervillain.

M’s husband, you’ve married your best friend, your best advocate, your best encourager. You get to spend the rest of your life loving her and getting to know her better. So a little advice from someone who has spent the first half of her life knowing her: be the person to check for bed bugs at hotels, let her talk through her anxieties with you, and give M and yourself margins on when you need to be out the door to events. When she is down on herself, remind her of your own and Jesus’ unconditional love of her. Bear with each other and forgive one another. And if you ever need anything, you know every person in this room is here to support you both, love you both, and pray for you both.

I don’t know how the Twin Story ends. We never finished it, and the fact that it is lost to the archives of old email accounts is of great comfort to me and my career. But if the book could have possibly ended as beautifully as the new chapter of your lives began today, I think we’d be lucky enough to be publishing the best love story yet.

I can’t wait to see the beautiful stories you write together. I can’t wait to see how you show the story of God’s faithfulness and love to the world through your marriage.

Let’s toast to M and M’s husband, to the next beautiful chapter, and the next, and the next.

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