Every little girl dreams of a perfect wedding. Okay, well, maybe not ALL little girls dream of a perfect wedding, but those girls who see that in their future at some point want it. The big ball gown. The party filled with family and friends. The gorgeous flowers, the luscious cake, the candles and music and ambiance that just screams magic. That special day where she gets to be the ultimate princess... the best day of her life. And always figured into that magical wedding day is the thought that her father will walk her down the aisle. It's not even a question. That's just the way it goes; part of being a princess is the presence of the one who ALWAYS saw her as one. Daddy.
You never think that he might not be there to share it with you.
I know I didn't.
Now here I am, planning my "perfect" wedding. The date is set, the sites are booked. I have my big ball gown; I know what I want my luscious cake to taste like. But I don't feel like a princess. I haven't felt like a princess for a year now, since my Daddy passed away from a brain stem aneurysm at the age of 40.
I remember that day, so clearly. I was at the bakery where I work, groggy from having to be there at 5am. I hadn't been there fifteen minutes when I got a phone call. My family had been trying to reach me for a while at that point; it seemed that no one had my work number. But, they told me that it wasn't deathly serious. They said it would be okay if I waited for my uncle to get me. And considering I live about an hour and a half away AND the fact that I don't drive, that pretty much was the only option. To this day I don't know if they knew how bad it was and merely wished to safeguard me, or if they told me what they knew. I only know that that was the longest four hours of my life.
By the time I got to the hospital, all that was left was for me to say good-bye. And I did, promising that I would take care of my mother and my sisters... as the oldest daughter, the one who had moved away, the one who had made her break, I felt I had to be the strong one. I tried to comfort my family as best I could. I took my sisters to eat something to get them away. I went home with my sister Amy when she couldn't be at the hospital anymore. But that whole time, a part of me screamed and shouted. A part of me hated myself for not coming home more often, not finding more reason to call, anything that might have meant that I'd have heard his voice or seen his smile one more time, instead of a month before he died. And I knew that I would have to return to my new home and work, and be alone.
But I wasn't alone. I had my Russell, my boyfriend who rushed down, interrupting his life so that he could come down and be with me. And so that he could say good-bye to a man who he had met only once, but who he had already begun to respect. And every day I thank whatever fates there might be that my father had a chance to meet the man who I now am planning to marry.
But it still won't be the same. Since my father passed away I've had several more devastating things happen to me, as well as an increasingly hectic schedule at work. I've hardly had time to sit down, let alone grieve. But now, as the one-year anniversary approaches in a week, I've discovered that stored away pain, coming up to hurt. And with the plans for my wedding in eight months occupying every aspect of my life, one fact looms above all else: my father won't be there on the most important day of my life.
And I hate it. I hate that he can't give me away. I hate that I won't get to dance with him to a sweet song at the reception. I hate that I won't get to bother him about his lack of dancing ability, his insistence that his MC Hammer pants DO go well with a tuxedo jacket, his constant wishing to Russell, "good luck son, you'll need it". I hate that he won't get to be the amazing grandfather I know he could have been, or that he'll not be there the day my sister Amy sings professionally (Amy's narrative), or the day Becca graduates from high school (Becca's narrative). I hate that he and my mother won't celebrate 21 more years of married life together.
However, I'm starting to try and stop hating. Because I know that I was blessed to have a loving father who was probably one of the most child-like, kind souls I could ever have known. I know that I was blessed with two parents who beat the odds by marrying right out of high school when they were nine months pregnant with me, and yet managed to stay happily married until the day he died, four months before their 22nd anniversary and my 22nd birthday. I know that he is proud of my Russell, for taking care of me while I was alone up here, away from the family net.
And I know that he'll be watching me, and loving me, when I walk down the aisle, in the church they were married in, on my mother's arm.
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