Last week, we attended a friend’s wedding in New York.
(Okay, so the reception was all that was in New York. The ceremony was in Bradford, Pennsylvania, but who’s looking?)
It’s likely you’ll only remember of this day how open the cathedral of the church felt. Or how beautiful Meghan looked in her dress. It’s possible you’ll forever be able to recall being on the dance floor in front of all those people you didn’t seem to notice watching you sing into a plastic microphone while wearing – by choice – a hot pink wig, feather boa and fake pearls from the photo booth’s prop box.
But will you remember what we talked about watching Meghan and her father dance?
Because, because of you, the father-daughter dance has taken the place of the most significant aspect of a wedding in my opinion. It stole it – with loveliness – from the bride-groom kiss. Because of you, I am a father. Because I am a father, I have started to contemplate the emotions of the day a man walks his daughter down the aisle.
Do you cry in this situation or act like the gentle-yet-stone-faced man your daughter has always known you as? Do you smile because she’s moving on with her life?
How about solitude – am I supposed to feel that? I think I would; you are the gem that shines the brightest in my life. Your twinkle makes a sound. How could I not feel alone when I give you away – ceremoniously, no less?
There are moments in a daughter’s wedding a father is bound to be happy, for sure. Meghan and her husband looked in love; I’m certain Meghan’s father saw this also before the two were married. That’s reason for a father to celebrate. But fathers will always wonder if another’s love for his daughter will forever be as potent, steadfast and downright unconditional as his.
I think, anyway. I know that’s for what I would hope.
I suppose I would find countenance in tangibles I cannot control. I’d need to exercise some faith in you and in God. After all, you will have learned from a man who’s not been married.
Contemplating this, though, I now see it is not the fear of losing a daughter a father fears with her marriage, but the commemoration of the foreseen, sudden end to the greatest chapter in his life. He has loved that child for 20, 22 or 28 years straight. He has seen her swaddled in pink, nestled in pastel-colored bed sheets and looking like a woman for the first time in her first prom dress. But he always got her back.
Yes, he always got her back on those nights she went out as a teenager. She came home when she said she would, ate dinner when the family met and honored his curfew. Those days, you see, were only the beginning of her flight from his nest.
But this day – her wonderfully dreary and glittery wedding day – marks her final takeoff. All things considered, Meghan’s father kept it together quite well, I should say.
Kalista, I want you to dream of this day. I hope you dream of a husband who will love you; a husband who will love you when I am gone. And I hope you find each other.
You’ll always be my little girl.