"May I cut in?" I tapped my brother on the shoulder. He looked confused but he stepped to the side and slid his new bride's hand in mine. I smiled at the young girl and placed my hand on her back gently. "I just wanted to tell you congratulations," I said as we danced.
"Thank you so much," she blushed. Her eyes moved towards her husband who was dancing with his two nieces, one girl on each hip. The girls squealed in delight as their Uncle Zac danced them across the dance floor.
"He's lucky to have found you," I gushed.
"Do you really mean that?" She asked, her eyes skeptical but proud.
"Trust me. I only say something if I mean it, and most of all: if I believe in it." The song ended. I let her hand down and bowed. "Thank you for the dance, Mrs. Zachary Hanson."
Nicole laughed. "You're very welcome."
"Can I have my wife back now?" Zac asked from off to my left. The girls were standing next to him, gazing up at the three of us.
"If you must," I replied handing her back to my younger brother. Zac took Nicole's hand and lead her towards the head table to get ready for the wedding toast which would be happening shortly.
"Uncle Taylor?" Amanda asked pulling on my jacket. "Is it almost cake time?" She looked towards the huge wedding cake which was being brought out of the kitchen.
I picked up my niece and balanced her on my hip. "Almost."
ZoŽ was pulling on my other side so I scooped her up as well. "Daddy has to talk first," ZoŽ informed her cousin once she was in position on my other hip.
I laughed. "Yep, Daddy has to talk first." I kissed her forehead and smoothed back her hair. "Then we can eat."
I walked off the dance floor and glanced back at the table where Nicole and Zac where sitting, hand in hand, looking out over the party. I handed Amanda off to her father and placed ZoŽ in a chair next to her mother. I kept my eyes on Zac and Nicole and watched them for a few more minutes.
"Taylor?" I smiled at the sound of my wife's voice and turned my head towards her. "Good luck."
"Thanks, babe," I accepted. The cake was brought to the middle of the floor and the bride and groom walked towards it as did Isaac and I. Someone handed me a microphone. I took center and tapped on my champagne glass, everyone in the room fell silent and cast their attention towards me. "Before I start this toast," I said, taking a deep breath. "I just want everyone to look at the bride and groom and marvel about how beautiful they look together." I turned my head to my brother and his wife who were standing at the cake holding each other's hands. "That is beauty, right there," I continued moving a little off to the side, making sure to make eye contact with the whole room, something I was extremely good at. "Perfection in it's own way." Out of the corner of my eye I saw Nicole place her head on Zac's shoulder and my brother holding her close to him. "Will everyone in the wedding party please come forward?" The bride's maids, ushers, parents, flower girls, and ring bearers each came to the dance floor without my having to plead. ZoŽ rushed to my side before anyone else could stand next to me. She gripped her hand onto my pant leg and I smiled down at her reassuringly. "This afternoon my two brothers and I were hanging around the back room of the church talking about our childhood memories, more specifically how Mom used to find little green plastic blobs in her oven. I used to steal Isaac's little army men and watch them burn." There was laughter. "Don't try that at home kids," I joked, "trust me your parents will not like it." More laughter. I smiled but it faded as I went on with my speech. "Then Zac told me something that has been plaguing me all day. He said: 'Taylor, on your wedding day I spent most of my time thinking about my life, how it was going to be so different. That day I came to the conclusion that change stinks but I had to deal. I knew that if you were happy I would be happy. Taylor, now I understand how a person can be so in love, just like you and Isaac are.'" I turned to Zachary. "I have no idea what I said to you that day, man, but I'm sure glad it worked!"
"So am I!" Zac said from behind me.
I laughed and raised my glass. "To Zachary and Nicole Hanson, may life treat you the way you are meant to be treated: healthy, happily, and together."
The clinking of glasses echoed throughout the room. Everyone applauded and Zachary kissed his bride once again. I handed the microphone back to a waiter and shifted towards my younger brother, who was now getting the cake knife from a waiter. I tapped his arm gently to get his attention. "What was it I said to you that day?" I asked softly.
Zac grinned lightly. "I was hanging in the back room of the church feeling sorry for myself, thinking about my pathetic existence, you entered the room acting like you were on top of the world, but that act couldn't fool me. You came forward and looked at yourself in the mirror. I asked if you were scared. You nodded and smiled at me, but then almost as though you knew what I was thinking your smile faded and you said, 'Nothing's going to change you know.' I looked into your eyes, full of pride, love and enthusiasm, and saw the truth behind them, I knew it already had. You admitted you were terrified, Taylor, that is the thing that I have never forgotten. When I asked you if you were scared, you said YES. You taught me then that it is all right to be scared of the future. I knew from that moment that I have to embrace the future even if I do not want to. You did, and look where it has landed you." He gestured towards the family Clare and I created. "I want it Taylor and now, I have it." He took a breath and hugged me tightly. "Thank you, Jordan, Thank you."