Who Will Walk Me Down the Aisle?
When my dad died seven weeks before my wedding day I was completely devastated. My whole world froze. Every girl dreams of her daddy walking her down the aisle, giving her away…and now, for one of the most important days of my life he wouldn’t be there. For the rest of my life, all the little joys and the rough times, the birth of my first child and the opening of my bakery, he wouldn’t be there.
It probably was selfish of me to think about things this way, but you have to understand that my dad and I were close…really close. My dad and my mom separated when I was four, and divorced when I was seven – I lived with my dad because my school was closer to his house, and because my mom traveled for work a lot. She worked for a big Chicago company that sent her all over the country to meet with clients. So growing up, my dad was the one who was there more often to bandage my knee when I fell down, to help me pick out clothes, to teach me how to ride a bike, to give me dating advice.
My dad, in every respect, was my best friend. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t tell him. When I met Dave in college, and we started to get serious, my dad flew out to UCLA to meet him. He knew how picky I was – I had only been on a handful of dates in high school, and only had one official boyfriend, so if I said anything was “serious,” I meant it.
When my Dad and Dave, my now wonderful husband of five years, started to talk to each other like they had known each other their entire lives – both of them huge fans of the Chicago Cubs and muscle cars. It made me so happy that the two most important men in my life actually liked each other.
We had decided to get married in Chicago, at a church in the Forest Glen area. My mom, tired after twenty years with the company, had decided to take a lesser role as a consultant so that she could spend more time with me and take up gardening – so at that point, she was around more often, and we were finally building the relationship that we never had when I was younger. Both her and my dad, then finally back on speaking terms, were there to help my pick out my wedding dress. It meant a great deal to me.
The heart attack wasn’t something anyone saw coming. My Dad was 61, ran twice a week, ate healthily, didn’t smoke – so when I got the phone call at 9 in the morning that terrible day, I couldn’t believe it. Some days I still don’t.
In the weeks following the funeral, a sort of cloud passed over a time in my life that was supposed to be endlessly happy. Dave, seeing how unhappy I was, suggested that we possibly postpone the ceremony. This was the very last thing I wanted to do…I also knew that my Dad wouldn’t have wanted that, so we kept the date the same.
A few days before the wedding, when I was going through my Dad’s things, I came across an old leather bound journal that seemed well-used. I never knew my dad to keep a journal – so, curious, I opened it up. It was full of quotes in my dad’s unmistakable handwriting. He had recorded the words of people like Hemingway, Jefferson, Kurt Vonnegut – but what surprised me was that, about halfway through, there was a page with my name on it as a header at the top. Beneath my name was a single quote – one by Helen Keller – it said, “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” Throughout my life he had been my miracle, and it would seem that I had been his too.
Reading those words gave me the strength I needed to make it through my wedding day without him. No, he wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle, but despite everything I felt like he was there with me, being the miracle of a parent he had always been. My Dad had always done the best he could – he taught me everything – but most importantly he showed me what love really was, and for that, I’ll be grateful to him forever.