27: The Best Man

27: The Best Man

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

The Best Man

There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.

~Terri Guillemets

“Let’s not have a best man then,” I whispered softly to him. “A wedding ceremony doesn’t necessarily need a best man.”

“I just don’t know who could fill his shoes.”

My fiancé’s only brother had died suddenly in an accident at the age of twenty. The two brothers had been best friends. It had been over fourteen years since his death. Yet, no one could take his place at our upcoming wedding.

“Moments like these are the hardest,” my future husband had explained, “when there’s a happy occasion and I just want to call him up to share the good news…. and I can’t.”

We decided that my three brothers would serve as ushers but the role of best man would remain vacant. To honor my fiancé’s brother, we would have a moment of silence during the ceremony and a best man’s boutonniere would be laid at his grave afterwards. My fiancé had silently agreed to all this. But, I could sense he felt his brother’s absence more deeply than ever.

The afternoon of our wedding, I took my first step onto the rose-petal-strewn path that led to my future husband. The ceremony was taking place in a garden and he stood waiting for me under a tree. My three brothers stood next to him in a perfect row. They smiled as I approached. I then noticed that my first brother, standing next to my groom, was off his mark. We had practiced several times during rehearsal the night before, each of us standing on a taped X denoting our spot. I suspected that due to nervousness, my brother had forgotten where to stand.

As I joined my soon-to-be husband at the head of the garden, I nodded my head to my brother, motioning for him to stand at his designated spot. He gave me a confused grin and a thumbs-up.

I mouthed, “Move over.”

He whispered, “What?” It was a bit louder than he intended. Giggles filled the crowd.

I decided to ignore it. Who cared if our line was a bit disjointed? I had bigger fish to fry. So, I joined hands with my groom and joyfully became a married woman.

It wasn’t until several weeks after the wedding that we understood the significance of the seemingly trivial circumstance. My husband came home with our wedding proofs. Like any other excited newlywed couple, we thumbed through them giddily. Then we came to the photos of our ceremony.

My bridesmaids stood in a nice neat row, right next to the bride. However, there was a visible gap between my husband and my first brother. The space was large enough to accommodate another groomsman. It looked as if someone was missing from the lineup. It looked like the best man had walked away.

I touched the photo with my fingertip. “Why is my brother standing way over there? And what’s that?”

The lighting in the garden had been dappled that day. Patches of sunlight were strewn here and there. But there was one small, very distinctive sunny patch that caught my eye. It had emerged from between the leaves and illuminated the spot on the grass where the best man should have stood. It shone on the grass to my husband’s right, marking the spot for a very special unseen guest.

“I guess someone made the event after all.”

My husband may not have been able to pick up the phone to deliver the good news of our engagement to his brother. He may not have been able to address that particular wedding invitation. No text or e-mail was ever sent. However, somehow, a very special VIP had found his place of honor right next to the groom.

Everything was just as it should have been.

~Michele Boom

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