“I’m going to go try and flirt with this guy.”
Even as I said it, I knew my sister would barely buy the flimsy excuse. Kathryn looked at me with a strange expression on her vacay-tanned face and cocked her head. “Really?”
“Yeah, yeah… I’ll buy a drink or something.”
My youngest sister Grace chimed in quickly. “Oh my gosh, I’m coming too. I can’t believe you talked to him!” We ran off toward our condo’s outdoor bar, looking like idiots—but we were out of options.
The awkward exit left Kathryn alone with her (uncharacteristically nervous) boyfriend, Hector.
“We’ll catch up to you!” I called back over my shoulder. They were already walking toward the quiet beach, with its imminent sunset.
Grace and I ducked behind a column near the bar. We waited there for a few minutes, got questioned by an excitable security guard, and then headed to the outdoor courtyard where our semi-stressed parents were setting up tea light candles.
So far, the Fitzgerald family collective plus Hector and company had faked a condo rental, improvised a nerve-wracking dinner, and planned a surprise post-engagement party for a somewhat suspicious Kathryn. There had been a few hiccups (“No! You can’t keep the ring in your pocket… I SEE IT.”) but, overall, I was impressed with the family’s ability to remain nonchalant.
Detaching from Kathryn was always going to be the most difficult part of Mission Engagement. When the sisters are finally together, in one place, at the same time, we don’t often separate. It was relatively easy for the parents to slip away and sign fake condo papers with a fake realtor named “Anna”… but Grace and I were trapped.
So there we were, pretending I had a prepubescent crush on a bartender probably three years my junior. Whatever. We were almost in the clear, and I knew that ring was practically jumping out of Hector’s pocket.
But it couldn’t.
The ring needed to stay hidden at least another 30 minutes.
“DO NOT COME BACK UNTIL 8:45,” I texted him. Then I imagined poor Hec looking at his phone, and breaking into a second monologue about what life would be like together. (I later discovered he already had a fabulous speech prepared. His dilly-dallying was instead in watching the sun fully set and walking back toward the condo very casually.)
Horrible traffic on I-95 had delayed almost all of our guests, so only about 9 out of 20 were present. But even as I frantically typed on my phone, cars zoomed into the complex and disheveled friends began running toward our "Best Wishes" decorations.
By the time Kathryn and Hector had arrived—giddy and relived, respectively—nearly everything was in its place. The night turned into a happy celebration of the married couple to-be.
And I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.
The Fitzgerald girls will finally have a brother. We will be more complete as a family, and Kathryn more complete as the beautiful individual she has become. Giving away your younger sister is a difficult endeavor, especially if you’re raised the way we were. But Hector is already someone who understands our family, someone who actually can keep up (and put up) with the excitable, endearing, and at times overwhelming Fitzgeralds.
So welcome aboard, brother.
We already love you so much.