Righting Wrongs From Twenty Years Ago


“But what would have been the good?”

Aslan said nothing.

“You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”

“Oh dear,” said Lucy.

“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan.

—C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian 

Each of us has regrets. It’s foolish to say that we don’t. Our lives are full of choices made, chances taken, and risks averted. Frost famously said that his choice to take the path less traveled made all the difference, but what of the other path? Who is to say what could have happened?

Twenty years ago, I made a choice. A rather foolish and selfish choice, too. My older brother, perhaps the only person I’d known in my life who had never lied to me, had never put himself before me, and had often sacrificed himself for me, was getting married. He came to me and asked me to be his best man.

His bride-to-be and I had never seen eye-to-eye on much—and that’s putting it mildly. So I was already not thrilled about the marriage itself. That was before I found out that the wedding was going to be a Jewish wedding, broken glass and yarmulkes included. That was the final straw for me as a young man who was much less religiously tolerant than I am today. I stood firmly on flimsy ground and, in the face everything decent, in a stupid, selfish act of defiance, I said No.

I lived to regret that decision. Although my brother may have forgiven me, I didn’t forgive myself. While I may not have supported the marriage, I should have supported him.

Six years later, I screwed together the courage to ask him to do for me what I had refused to do for him—to be my best man in my own wedding. He didn’t hesitate to tell me yes. In my own small way, asking him to stand next to me was my way of asking for forgiveness without ever actually asking. I think he knew.  Brothers are good like that. In some small way, in that moment, things were made somewhat right. But not completely.

This past weekend, however, I finally had my chance to right a wrong from twenty years ago. When my brother mentioned that he had asked the lovely Danger Girl to marry him, I didn’t even wait to be asked. I asked—no, I informed him that I would be his Best Man.

And so it was that I found myself standing in the Valley of Fire bright and early on Sunday morning, standing in the place where I’ve always been—right behind my brother. As I handed over the rings during the ceremony, I felt a sense of peace come over me. Watching my brother stand there, next to the woman he loves, I knew that this time it would last. I knew that, for both of us, this was a sense of redemption. For him, it was a true love, unencumbered by expectation or guilt or rebellion. For me, it was the opportunity to support my brother in the way that he’s always supported me, without judgment or qualification.

At long last, I had managed to do the right thing. And, even if it’s twenty years late, it’s never the wrong time to do that.


35 Replies to “Righting Wrongs From Twenty Years Ago”

  1. Mental

    I didn’t get to grow up with my brother. I didn’t even get to meet him until I was 35. Having not had that opportunity, I love how you two treasure your relationship. It’s a gift.

    • viper32cm

      I was thinking the same thing. There’s a 17-23 year age gap between me and my four siblings, so I never really had much of an opportunity either.

  2. jz78817

    Since our respective families are very small and we didn’t have many acquaintances, when my sister got married I participated as her Man (Maid) of Honor, while her husband’s sister was his Best Woman (Man.)

    and yes, this was a ceremony performed at a Catholic Church.

    • Jack Baruth

      That’s a brand new Kiton for which I paid a duke’s ransom. I’ll be wearing it every day from now until I die.

        • Jack Baruth


          The two Kiton sportcoats I bought back in 2005 or so have been very durable, but this one is cashmere rather than linen so anything probably goes.

          • Will

            Surprising. I’ve had Italian suits go rather quickly with normal use; it’s why I find Oxxford suits better because of the durability factor. Kiton, Isaia, Brioni daily for the office grind falls apart. Fit is second to none though.

          • Jack Baruth

            Oxxford is legit. I’m such an Oxxford fan that I have three untailored RTW suits hanging in the closet just in case I need a new suit when I’m broke or under federal indictment or something… well, it’s actually a case of me having a chance to buy them new at $1100 a pop.

  3. kvndoom

    Whoa! How did I miss THAT news?!?

    Congrats man! I truly feel that the older one is, the better ones chance to have a successful marriage. Wise man once said “when you’re done looking for sex, you’ll find love.”

  4. galactagog


    although I have to admit, in that photo you both look like you’re up to no good 😀

    ( I caught myself scanning the background for bodies, burned out SUV’s, or burned out water-cooled porsches )

  5. Dave L

    Stories like this give me hope. My brother and I whom are exactly the same ages as you and Jack have not spoken for 2 years over the treatment of our mother. Regardless of how distant we’ve become I’ll always have open arms for him when he’s ready.

    On a lighter note, what horological items occupy your wrists?

    • Jack Baruth

      Bark and I haven’t always gotten along. Part of being family, I suppose, is that there’s always a chance to make it right.

      • Disinterested-Observer

        There was an article in the New Yorker a couple years ago, might have been by Nadine Gordimer. At any rate, she said that she remembered as a child that it was “scandalous” how long her father and his brother went without speaking regardless of if they were fighting. She did not know that as an adult that is just the way it goes sometimes.

  6. don curton

    My brothers and I sometimes go months or years without speaking, only to get together and share a few beers and break bread like nothing happened. And wonder why. Congrats on being there. And congrats to Jack.

  7. Paul Alexander

    Congrats on being the best man to your brother, that’s got to feel great!

    Your guys’ relationship is awesome. I’ve been trying to establish the same thing with my brother, who’s only a couple years younger, but it takes both people to want to play along. Breaks my heart, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying.

    • Jack Baruth

      I think the older you get, the more you sense how important it is to stick with family.

      Bark and I squabbled over all sorts of stupid stuff when we were younger but I think now that we’re firmly in middle age we’ve calmed down.

      • jz78817

        I think a lot of it is reaching the age/maturity level where you no longer interpret someone disagreeing with you as a personal affront/judgement.

  8. -Nate

    This is great ! .

    My family is horribly broken , I’m only close to one of my Brothers , a sad thing but you can only do as you have done and do the right thing .

    Way to go Mark .


  9. Scott Seigmund

    God Damn. I can’t believe I started to puddle up reading that! I’m one of four brothers. No sisters. Believe me, I know this.

    Thanks Bark and Congratulations Jack.

  10. VolandoBajo

    Congratulations, Jack. First I have heard of your new status. And congrats to you Bark for so eloquently stating the evolution of the relationship of two brothers.

    My sister and I are like night and day, might as well come from different solar systems. The best we can do is maintain a bit of civility. Never had a brother, but my best friend from college (who also does not have a brother) and I have become like brothers to each other over the years…closer, actually.

    All the best to and for both of you, gentlemen. Keep us posted on how things evolve for both of you and your families. Some solid insight in there about life

  11. Baconator

    Congratulations to Jack and Danger Girl! Hope you have many good adventures together, and that we get to read about some of them.


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