Twenty years ago, I was kicking his butt in short order. Ten years ago, I was disdainfully ignoring his existence. Five years ago, I rediscovered who he was as a human being. Two weeks ago, I watched him get married.

I didn’t really appreciate my younger brother until five years ago. We both had some growing up to do, you might say. While we have a few other siblings, he and I are the only two of our parents, and there’s a special bond between us, because we grew up together. (Dad’s been remarried for almost 15 years, and our other siblings are 20 (he’s a step), 12, and 8.) Of course, I didn’t even realize this “bond” existed until we found each other as human beings.

You see, kicking his butt in short order didn’t really endear me to him. (I can’t imagine why!) And the divorce splitting us up into different home environments made us strangers to each other. We were being raised in completely different ways.

Imagine my shock, and my joy, then, in discovering that my brother is really a part of me! Imagine how I must have felt when I found out the role genetics must have played in our similarities. Friends, it was like coming home. (Not that I wouldn’t kick his butt again in short order. I would. That’s what big sisters are for!)

So watching him get married two weeks ago was truly meaningful and touching. I wasn’t prepared for how I would feel seeing my little brother take a wife, how I would look at my daughter and imagine my husband possibly giving her away someday, how I would see my mom out of the corner of my eye and feel the absence of those who chose not to come. I really had no idea how important the ritual of the wedding ceremony was to me, though I was one of the ones who assured him this was so for many people. The two of them had to get married a while back for insurance coverage (conservative big sister was glad – at least they weren’t just shacking up anymore!), so this was all a “show.” But what a show. What a night. What a great excuse to suffer vacation hangover.