okay everyone, hi. this is going to be long and at times kind of hard but we'll all get through it together. most of you i already know, likely by blood. but to those i don't, hopefully tonight we will all get to know one another a lot better. a little introduction, of course. i am cate, hi. i've had the dignified honor and esteem of being the best man for this wedding. also, the undignified honor of having my child interrupt the ceremony earlier. so, you have your ups and downs in life. but, austen this has been so great and i am very touched that you chose me for this. thank you.
before we get ahead of ourselves, i need to gush about how happy i am to be here tonight; to be doing this. you have to understand- actually, okay. no, it's time for a history lesson. you see, i have known these two for many years, forever, roughly two centuries if i had to put a number on it. and they've been such an important part of my life, not just as my friends, but as my family. for years they have been two people so integral to who i am. and i like to think i am to who they are. if any of you are as lucky as i am to have anyone in your life like this, hold onto them, cherish them. because they will return everything you give tenfold.
all jokes about time aside, i have literally known austen forever. as his cousin i've had the pleasure of knowing him my entire life. sometimes like another older brother, but more often as a best friend. i think grandma and grandpa glover would agree, there are no two cousins closer, no two cousins who are better friends than he and i. we have the same sense of humor, the same love of good country music and bad food, the same need to be understood, the same desire to put others before ourselves, and the same flair for terrible decisions. in fact i believe there was a time we were actively kept apart because it was way too much when we were together. probably too annoying too. there was a conspiracy in middle school, i believe, that we were to have no classes together. the administration really failed you on that one, mom.
and even if austen and i were kept apart, it was then that i literally met my other half. you know, i can hardly remember when we actually met, liz. because my time without you doesn't matter as much as my time with you. and by the way, everyone, this is a theme that will continue to come up. take notes for the test later. why a test? because liz and i love tests. we used to argue over gpas in my parents kitchen, or have study sleepovers before big exams at her house. with liz and i, it's as though we just melted together. best friends doesn't describe it. it's more like two sides of the same coin, if that coin was the double headed quarter grandpa used to hustle us out of money with. perfect, from the start.
i've spent a lot of time working on this toast, trying so hard to make it perfect. trying to make everything fit, to explain the very nuanced relationships i have with each of these two, and exactly why they are so perfect together. or to perfectly express my love for them, and i've come to realize that's not going to happen tonight. because perfect doesn't really exist; or if it does, that's a life i'm not privileged to. because this story - their story - isn't perfect. it's about what we do when things aren't so perfect, and how we take care of one another.
now, at this time i'd like to make sure my beautiful aunt krista has some tissues. or a lot of wine. both. same goes for jason. get another tallboy in his hands.
austen and i were inseperable as kids. something just clicked. it's this rare, beautiful thing that magically happens sometimes. i love - fiercely - every single one of my siblings, my cousins, this whole giant family. i would walk through fire, i would take the shirt off my back, i would do anything for any one of you and i think you know it. but with austen there is just this very bizarre connection. it's weird, i know. we're both just strange people. we both have the kind of interests most discourage. sure, we were lucky enough to be born into an extremely tolerant and also strange family, but even they have their limits. i mean there's a reason no one listened to our podcast. but one person who never discouraged our weirdness, our very distinct interests, was austen's dad.
look, i don't know if it's some kind of social faux pas to talk about this sort of thing at a wedding, but you see, it's all part of not-perfect. it all played a role to shape us and to shape them. i loved my uncle charlie very much. spending my weekends at austen's house was one of my favorite things as a kid. i had a lot there, like elbow room at the dinner table for starters. i also had my bestfriend, my mini-me cousin and my aunt krista and uncle charlie. one thing charlie got us into very early on - and surprise i am not going to mention horror movies or haunted houses at all - was a little game called dungeons and dragons. now, i know what you're all thinking. you're looking at me and asking yourselves this woman? this absolute bombshell of a mother dressed in a blue power suit that yes you did overhear saying she really felt like this color pallet gave her a gondorian vibe when she was in line for the ladies room earlier, couldn't possibly be into a game like that. i know. but here i am, in the flesh. single too, if you'd believe it. and it was charlie who first got me- both of us -into it. charlie who was our first dungeon master. charlie who did nothing but encourage our imagination.
now before we go any further, it's time for a detour about just how encouraging charlie could be.
once upon a time, when austen and i were in the 8th grade, we thought we'd gotten our hands on some... um... what's it called because i don't know anyone who actually does the stuff... uh... don't make me say it... oh yes, marijuana. we thought we'd gotten our clever little hands on some marijuana that we'd stolen from our uncle jason. of course apparently it was dried oregano and italian flat leaf parsley, but we had no idea. and regardless, we attempted to smoke it. and by smoke it i mean cough and choke and smell like a damn pizzeria. it was a disaster. and uncle charlie somehow knew exactly what we were up to. later on i would find out this was all some common prank among our parents? and it all began when grandpa first accused uncle stephen of being a hippie. which i would never believe but stranger things have happened. as far as i'm concerned, it was all entrapment. and i thought i was high as a kite. so who comes into the basement baring gifts? uncle charlie! two whole loaves of garlic bread with marinara dipping sauce, cause he had a feeling us kids would be hungry. and then he watched us - encouraged us - to force ourselves to eat it all. every. last. piece.
i remember he drove me home after that, whistling that's amore. in my dumb brain - i told you austen and i both have a flair for terrible decisions - i knew he knew how high i was. i threw up on the driveway as he pulled out. and i remember thinking how cool he was for not telling my parents. of course i did find out later that he immediately went home and got on party line with both my parents, aunt krista, uncle jason, uncle stephen and grandpa, to discuss how dumb austen and i were. thanks.
what strikes me most these days, is how austen is just like him. you know i love roasting you, austen, but i mean it when i say you look like him, or you act like him. fun, imaginative, caring, protective and admirable. someone who loves his family, loves what he does, and loves his life. and i really can't wait for the phone call when you tell me just how dumb our kids are.
when charlie died it was very hard. but you know who i remember the most during that time, the person who helped the most? liz. this is one of those liz memories i will honestly cherish forever. our whole family struggled. his death sent shock waves through us all. i remember i didn't know how to talk to my mom about it. i tried so hard to find words, to find a way to comfort her. and if i couldn't talk to her, imagine how lost i was with austen. i was useless. i hardly realized i was dealing with my own grief because there were so many people around me that needed to be comfort and care. thank god for liz, honestly. it was liz who suggested we do all of austen's homework. i mostly remember how quickly she jumped to action to care for my cousin - someone i know she thought was a little creepy or weird back then. but nonetheless, he was part of our group, he was family. she made sure he was taken care of, and made sure i felt useful.
liz knows me better than i probably know myself at this point - and she knew then too. she knows when i get overwhelmed, the ways i struggle to feel equal, and she knows when i'm truly hurting. maybe it's just a way she has with people, or maybe it's a way she has with me. before we met, i didn't know something was missing, but since then i can't imagine life without her - you can't imagine the emptiness when she's not there. like, the co-dependence is strong here. as teenagers we thrived on competition with one another, completed each other's sentences and checked each other's mental math. and we had plans - big plans. plans about which college we would attend, what we would major in, how we would eventually have a business together. we would share the title of CEO. She would take on the role of COO and i would of course be the CFO. the business itself could have been anything. it was more about the fact that we were going to be two lady bosses.
but not-perfect caught up with us too. in the form of a guy whom i thought was actually perfect. because like i said earlier, tonight we're on a journey to get to know each other much better. this wedding isn't my first. first as best man, yes - and i would like to think i'm making this role my own. but when we were kids, a long, long... looong time ago, i was the one getting married. and that sent the three of us - austen liz and i - on a roller coaster from hell. plans changed for liz and i. we would no longer run our empire or even attend the same school. but more than that, i left her... alone... with him. now, there are plenty of gorey details from that time. there was plenty of hurt and heartache, distance and disappointment. but like i said, i'm not here to mention horror movies or haunted houses. just know there was plenty - more than plenty - heaps and mounds and tons of not-perfect. but not-perfect has way of giving you exactly what you need.
i don't know what happened between them, but i do know that in my absence they found one another as friends. when she was hurting because i ran off to make terrible life choices and left her alone, he took care of her. and their creepy little friendship was born. i remember being so jealous at first, thinking there was no room left for me anymore. but then i saw just how great they were together.
and when i needed them most, it was these two friends that took care of me. when i was at my lowest, they were the ones who - with liz taking the charge because that's the amazing lady boss she is, and with austen being strong, reliable and protective of not only me, but my son as well - took me back into their lives and built me back up. unconditionally, by the way. without pretense, without motive. despite my flair for making terrible decisions, they took care of me. two people who didn't have to. two people i will be eternally grateful for.
austen and liz, getting to be part of your lives - through the highs and lows - has been a blessing. seeing the two of you together and getting to be there for all of these amazing moments - and the ones still to come - means more to me than you probably realize. on your own, you are both strong, wonderful, messy, real, honest, loyal people that i am so honored to call my family. together you are something i never expected, but i am so happy to witness; two people who truly compliment and complete one another. a fit not 'perfect', but just right. because marriage isn't 50/50 - sometimes it's 60/40 or 10/90. sometimes one person has to lean on the other, one person has to care for and support their partner. when i set out to write this toast, that was my big lesson, by the way. the thing i learned from marriage that i wished someone would have told me before. yet, as i ventured down this path i realized you already knew that lesson because you've both been practicing it your whole lives.
so, everyone please join me in raising a glass to these two.
i love you both very much. i've loved you both separately since the dawn of time. i've loved you together these past few years. and with love always comes trust - something i know you both know very well. because when extremely monumentally not-perfect finally caught up with me and i needed it most, you are the two i trusted to take care of me. and you are the only two people i would ever trust to take care of one another. you already have and i know you always will.
i love you guys, congratulations.