Days of anticipation carried him through the chaos surrounding his daughter’s pending wedding. As much as any little girl imagines a fairytale ceremony, fathers dream of walking their daughters down the aisle.
When he and her mother divorced, she was only a child. He went from spending each morning of every day with her, to squeezing in a weekend here, a holiday there.
It was hard for him to see his wife and daughter go on with their lives without him, to feel that he was so easily disposable. It was hard to hear his only child tell him about all the wonderful things she was doing, all the fun places she was going, without him.
Weeks turned into months, turned into years, and he lost is way and lost sharing in many of her milestone moments. If not for his daughter reaching out to him from college, he would not be standing in a rental store, trying on ill-fitting tuxedos.
She asked him to escort her to the altar, to place her hand in her intended’s, to give her away again. Only it was different this time.
Once he fulfilled his duties before the congregation, he slid over into a white, satin ribbon adorned pew, across the aisle from his ex-wife. That he wasn’t included on the Bride’s Side of the church didn’t escape his notice.
The reception following the ceremony was a whirlwind of hugs and kisses, fruit punch and canapés, dancing and garter tossing. He stayed on the fringe, sipping from a tiny glass cup, his meager snacks enveloped in an embossed cocktail napkin.
This was no family reunion for him. No one clapped him on the back to congratulate him on his new son-in-law, no one cooed over what a beautiful bride his little girl made. The whole evening passed in slow motion, while he tried to memorize his daughter’s glowing face.
Holding her close during their father-daughter dance, her small, delicate hand engulfed in his huge, callous-covered paw, he remembered a long-ago dance. Her feet on top of his, while they both swayed to the music. He mourned their lost years.
A quick embrace, and he gave way to her bridegroom, as the new Mr. and Mrs. took a twirl around the room. As she spun around, their eyes met, and she smiled a genuine smile of love. He blew her a kiss, then he took his melancholy out the back door.