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HERMANA.

There is no other name I call my sister and there is no other name she calls me. Because she is my one and only sister, and I am hers. She is unique to me in all the world.

Those of you on our family & friends side know ‘hermana’ is what we have always called each other. For those of you on Andrew’s side, it means ‘sister’ in Spanish. For us the word means so much more.

This habit started before either of us can remember. Probably when she was 14 months old and first learning to talk, and this new blobby baby came into the picture and our mother kept repeating to her “tu hermana – your sister; ayuda a tu hermana – help your sister; deja a tu hermana – leave your sister alone”; and the most important,

“Cuida a tu hermana – take care of your sister.”

So I guess it stuck. And then when I learned to talk, I copied her because at that age I did everything she did.

She was always the pied piper. She was braver and more outgoing than me, wanting to go on adventures and make new friends. And I followed as her trusty sidekick. As a kid, I felt safe following in her footsteps, and then as we got older, glad that she was blazing a trail for me.

I once read an article about the unique relationship of siblings – how they are the only people in the world that witness our lives in their entirety. Our parents bring us into the world and pass on somewhere in the middle; friends come and go along the way; spouses enter at a point and stay until death. But siblings are with you throughout the whole thing, give or take a few years.

They know where you come from and how you grew up; the family stories and traditions; they’ve watched you change and grow into the person you’ve become; they’ve stood by your side as you’ve made mistakes and picked yourself back up; they’ve seen the ups, the downs, the joys, and the heartbreaks; they know the buttons to push that will drive you crazy; they know the inside jokes that will make you laugh; they know your deepest flaws that you try to hide from others; they also know the very best of you. You can be your total, true, complicated self around your siblings because they will roll their eyes and love you anyway.

I feel so blessed to have someone like her, my Hermana, by my side on my journey, and what a privilege it has been to witness her life and to get to share in it. And now, Andrew, it’s your turn!

Today has brought us here, gathered on your wedding day. My parents gave their daughter to you in marriage, and her best friends and I are also giving you a precious gift. We have been the guardians of her heart, keeping it safe. We are entrusting you to do the same. You get to cheer her joys and comfort her tears, just as she will do for you.

I get to give this toast, but I am up here representing all her friends, so I asked them to share with me some of their words of what she means to them. They said: hysterical, opinionated, ruthlessly loyal, fantastic, confident, smart, creative, empowered, loving, passionate, self-assured, giving, intelligent, all-around wonderful, smart, supportive, funny (and punny!), passionate and compassionate; she was there when I needed a karaoke partner, pick up after a breakup, watching a football game, celebrating a milestone…she was there and she made everything more fun!; Jordana means the world to me. a true friend who never competes or wants anything less than the very best for her friends. She has shown loyalty to me and stood up for me; she’s been there to remind me what I’m worth; she is a wonderful person who deserves the best; Jordana is the spice to my mild. The chocolate to my vanilla. Our friendship brings me depth and love; there are few people who know me better; we will grow old together with infrequent visits but amazing phone conversations and a mutual love that will never go away.

I’d like to add that she is giving and forgiving; generous and thoughtful. She’s a fun travel companion but gets whiney if she’s hungry so bring snacks. She is loud.

We are all better for knowing her, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we couldn’t be happier that the road led to you, Andrew. You are kind and caring and open-hearted and you bring joy and calm. You are a blessing to her and a welcome addition to our family. Should I start calling you ‘hermano’?

I have seen how you bring out her best qualities; how she is striving to be a good partner for you — listening and willing to compromise…how’d you do it? I’ve been trying to figure it out for 35 years.

I want to end with my favorite quote from my favorite book that are words I try to live by:

“It is only with the heart that one sees clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

Please raise a glass…Look to God first, and may you see each other always with the eyes of your heart. Andrew – cuida a mi hermana. Take care of my sister. To Andrew and Jordana. Cheers!

My sister and I on her wedding day.

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