Dear Derek -
In another life, you and I would never be friends. Putting aside the fact that you lived in PA and went to school in Ohio, while I have always been (and probably always will be) a Maryland native, if we had somehow been in high school or college together, we would have butted heads. I’m fully aware that my overt feminism is sometimes over the top, an effort to overcompensate for the isolation that so many female engineers feel. I’m also aware that I have a tendency to state my opinions on this fact rather loudly, and that my own love for school often makes me judgmental about apathy in other people. Which means that, from what I know about you, we would have fought in classes. Because I know other guys like you, and I fought with them. I fought about their general disdain for required classes, about their offhand jokes about women in the kitchen, about basically everything, because that’s what I did. It’s how I acted. Ask any of my guy friends (and I do still have some) - I was and still am a little sensitive about being a woman engineer.
Even in real life (instead of the hypothetical one) I had a hard time liking you. And here’s why. First of all, you were the first sister boyfriend I had to deal with. I hadn't had the chance to grow accustomed to a new guy in my sister’s life as the rest of the family did with Ryan. You were it, and you did not seem like the kind of guy I’d be drawn towards (see above). But my sister adored you. It was so obvious in every part how happy she was with you, how much she wanted this to work. When Jessica left for Case, I was slightly terrified about what might happen. High school was not her favorite time or place, and I (again, who loved school and couldn’t understand those who didn’t) worried about what college would do to her. When she met you, I was hesitant about being nice to you, because you (someone I didn’t know and didn’t trust) had the potential to crush my sister. I didn’t know you, but I knew if you broke up with her, she’d be sad in a way I couldn’t fix. And I hated you because of that. Emotionally, someone I loved and cared about was now loving and caring about someone else, in a way that they could not love or care about me. And the instinct in much of my large, loud, tightly knit family is to tease what you don’t understand or don’t like. So, I teased you mercilessly. And for the most part, you held up under it (even though I know I wasn’t your favorite Scheerer sister).
Anyways, I don’t need to go over the history of all the times you and I have interacted in person. The point is, you proved me wrong. Over time, you proved you weren’t just interested in Jessica for the status symbol of having a girlfriend. You were able to make an OH/TN relationship work when you finally left Cleveland. You were more OK with my teasing you - do you like it? Of course not, and no one does. But you put up with it, you didn’t shut me out. So slowly, I began to think that maybe you’d be OK, maybe you’d be in her life for good, and that would be OK. That’s around the time that I switched from calling you “Muff Man” and “The Muffler” (which, for the record, I still think is a fun nickname and I wish you didn’t hate it) to actually calling you Derek.
And now you’re almost ready to marry my sister. I’ve learned over the past couple of years that you all have been dating that, while I wouldn’t have selected you, Jessica did, and she knows what she wants and needs better than I do. It would appear that means you. While dating you, my sister’s confidence level has grown, and you have become an immovable fixture in her heart. So, Derek, because I love my sister, and who she loves, I will love - let’s be friends.
Let’s both appreciate how stunningly beautiful Jessica is - I mean, really, she was called beauty and girlfriend her whole life. Growing up, we all knew she was the sexy sister. Let’s appreciate together how she was born to be a teacher - besides you, the only way her face lights up is when she’s helping kids with something. And she’s particularly talented for being a middle/high school math teacher, because those were the years that she was so apathetic about school herself, so she gets it, and gets how to make it inspiring. Let’s appreciate how crafty she is, and how she saves every scrap of fabric for a future project...oh wait, that part might not be so fun for you, since it means you have to store all that stuff. I’ll appreciate that, and you can complain about it, I give you permission.
This is as much a letter to open a space in my heart for you as a little brother as it is a love letter of sorts from me to my baby sister, the one love that despite all our apparent differences, you and I will share for the rest of our lives. It's on you now to love and honor her, to protect her the way my big sister heart wants her to be protected. When her heart aches, ours will ache for her. When she smiles, our hearts will be happy knowing she is happy. She will forever tie us together in a new sibling in law relationship.
Besides Jessica, I look forward to finding other stuff that you and I have in common over the rest of our lives (I hear you’re a fan of board games? Maybe that would be a good start). I want to welcome you into our crazy large and loud family, to show you just how much we care about one another. I want to believe that this is “the start of a beautiful friendship” between us (that’s a very famous movie line from Casablanca). I’m excited for y’all’s wedding day.