Looking To Love For Redemption

My baby brother got married this weekend.

My best friend for 30 years – my Lil’ Man, as I affectionately refer to him, and I have always taken care of each other. This weekend, the Commonwealth of Virginia declared him responsible enough to take care of another’s heart – his wife’s.

The pre-wedding timeline was riddled with bad turns and unlucky breaks. My father was unable to attend. My brother’s best friend since high school came down severely ill two days before. It rained. And rained. And rained. Until the entire D.C. Metro area was put under a coastal flooding warning.

Finally, the nail that pushed my brother’s proverbial coffin into overdrive came an hour prior to the rehearsal – the hotel, rehearsal dinner restaurant and post dinner shenanigans (in the form of an escape room) had all lost power. Panic crossed his face. In the midst of this he was trying to get our family settled into his apartment (our home base for the weekend), get himself ready for the rehearsal, and trying to figure out how to pick up a friend flying into the airport.  

The Type A in me took over a little and got his butt in the shower while my Life Hostage and I took airport duty on. I figured the other stuff would work itself out.

Upon our arrival at the airport, we found out that LJ’s bags had been unfortunately forcibly checked and had yet to make any appearance. Without my brother’s eyes on me, I know my shoulders began to sag a little. I wanted everything to be so perfect for him and things I couldn’t fix were bringing him down.

As if God was hearing my internal chatter, suddenly I heard LJ say, “Rachel O, all is not lost – my bags! Redemption!” And thus the term #redemptionweekend was born.

The next morning, my Gram, Mama and I sat on the couch bright and early watching another young man get married. You may have heard a thing or two about this kind hearted British redhead who was marrying a biracial American activist. He stood in the front of church shaking from nerves, breaking into a huge smile when he saw his bride, telling her, “I’m so lucky.”

We arrived at the hotel and immediately Tammy the wedding planner took me to my brother’s hotel room. In the stairwell I broke down in tears. I don’t even know where they came from but they hit me like a ton of bricks.

Between sobs, I told Tammy, “I don’t usually do this, I have no idea what my problem is.” She smiled at me and said, “Baby girl, he’s been your best friend for 30 years, this is totally normal.” And with that, just as quickly as them came on, the tears dried. By the time we got to the hotel room, I was almost completely put back together. 

After a quick, almost half knock, brother answered the door with an absolute look of disgust on his face stating, “We have a problem – that little ginger punk stole my line this morning.” I burst out laughing uncontrollably until tears rolled down my cheeks once again. #redemptionweekend had seemingly turned a corner.

About an hour later I made a trek down the aisle in front of my brother’s bride. When I got to him, he grabbed me in a bear hug. And he was shaking with nerves. But he broke into a huge smile when he saw his princess and told her she was “Awesomesauce.” At least that’s what he told me he was going to tell her.

During dinner, LJ gave a toast – a very quirky, heartfelt speech I would only expect from him. In it he talked about #redemptionweekend and the redeeming power of love. He echoed the sentiments of the Episcopal Archbishop (a fellow Chicagoan) at that other wedding.

Do you look to love for redemption? Do you see love in your life regularly? Do you put the love you have to give out into the world? I found myself answering yes to every one of these questions. As I held my Life Hostage’s hand and watched my Gram and Mom tear up, I realized how full my life truly is.

My baby brother got married this weekend. Not in front of 600 of his nearest and dearest with trendy fascinators in the crowd. He got married enveloped and surrounded in love by 25 people filled with abundant joy. And those moments redeemed us all.

Rachel Olszewski

A hot mess held together on a daily basis by dry shampoo and probiotics, Rachel is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up but for now is a communications professional by trade. A true Chicagoan through and through, she is an East Coast transplant trying to set down roots. Although the height of her high heels may be getting shorter, Rachel’s expectations are not getting lower and she is on a mission to change the world one person at a time.

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