(Evening of October 21, The Great Overland Station)
I am Holly P., Bree's cousin on her father's side. In that branch of Bree's family, I'm the oldest grandchild and Bree is the youngest, a wonderful cap to our generation of the family.
Our family's tradition was to gather at our grandparents for Christmas, Fourth of July and other big celebrations. While some of us kept those gatherings lively (*insert takes-one-to-know-one glance at Carson here*), little Bree was a quiet presence as she tucked herself into the middle of the festivities.
I particularly remember the warm glow in her big, brown eyes, radiating such happiness to be surrounded by all the people she loved--and the people who loved her so very much. That glow was much like the lustre of a rare pearl, nestled snugly in a velvet cushion.
At these occasions, Bree was a child of few words. But one time, when she was maybe four or five, she came into the kitchen and to the womenfolk preparing the meal announced, "I'm going to marry a doctor."
It touched me when she said that, because--as so many of you know--Bree from her earliest years suffered from very severe asthma. Many, many times, during family gatherings and on ordinary days, Bree had to be rushed to the hospital.
While those times must have terrified her parents (and certainly caused the whole family to hold their breath), what Bree at that tender age apparently took from her experience was this:
A doctor was someone who was kind, who cared for her, someone she could trust.
So, as Bree's family gathers tonight to (finally!) officially welcome Dr. Todd into our fold, I would like to say to Todd: Thank you, for being the kind, caring, trustworthy man upon whom Bree can depend.
Please remember that we, Bree's original family, are counting on you--for today we have entrusted to your steadfast care a precious, precious treasure.
And to that precious treasure: Bree, it warms my heart to see the beautiful, accomplished and loving young woman you have become. [And it means the world to us, your family, that you are happy, safe, and above all cherished by this fine man.*]
But, what truly moves your eldest cousin tonight is seeing you still have the glowing eyes of that dear little girl who, some 24 years ago, told us that this day would come. I knew when you said it that, indeed, someday it would.
A toast: To Dr. and Mrs. N. God bless you.