As the bride and her father made her way down the aisle, the tears began to flow. Happiness mixed with untold emotions washed over her.
The father, I’m sure, was glancing down a slate of wide-ranging options. “Should I stop and give her a hug?” “Should I tickle her like when she was little until the tears go away?” “Should I turn her around and whisk her away to safety . . . away from all of this . . . away from those things that are making her cry?”
Instead, he did what all fathers in this situation do. He grasped her arm a little tighter and kept walking toward the front of the church and her waiting groom — and new life. He walked her toward happiness and sadness and responsibility and the man she will walk beside through all of those things.
I’ve never had that experience being the father of two sons. In our two weddings, I have sat safely in my seat at the front and resigned myself to things being different. My momentary feeling of loss melting away at the realization that the beautiful young woman coming down the aisle was now a part of my family.
But I didn’t have to walk beside my sons to escort them to this new way of being. The groom just knows that his father is there if he’s needed. The bride’s father must make this walk, let go, and then sit in a seat much like mine.
At the reception, I asked my friend about that moment in the aisle. In the few seconds he had before moving on to greet hundreds of other guests, he described this surreal moment he shared with his daughter.
“As we started down the aisle, the audience began to stand. Suddenly, as they turned to welcome us, my daughter and I realized that we were seeing our entire lives painted before us. Faces from both sides of the aisle brought back memories of who we are and where we have been.”
What a wonderful picture! As I think about what that would have looked like for me, tears begin to pool in my eyes as well.