July 23, 2014 —
She responds to me with, “Oh… Daddy,” when I tell her how cute she looks in her PJs with her pig tails swinging down the hall. She is doing a quick skip as she leads me to the kitchen and can’t keep in the excitement of what she has prepared (with help from Mom). “Sit Daddy, sit,” she instructs, and like the good waitress she unfolds the paper-towel napkin she has held over her arm till now and places it on my lap. She is hopping in place with excitement. I can’t help but notice the smile, the rosy cheeks and the twinkle in those big brown eyes of hers. She hands me the card she has been spending days planning and drawing, especially for this day. “Open it, Daddy, open it,” she says. I close my eyes as slowly, I slip my finger under the edge of the envelope and for a second; I am seeing her whole life in front of me—the anticipation of the nine-month wait, the nervous butterflies in the delivery room and the six years of “firsts” I have had with this angel.
In the blink of my eyes she is standing next to me, pouring me coffee from the carafe. The room is noisy and filled with friends and family busy getting breakfast. She hands me the card and says, “Open it, Dad, open it”. I close my eyes and as I slip my finger under the edge of the envelope, as I have done for the past 30 years, I see her now as she was last night, with her grandmother’s pearls hung gracefully around her neck, her dress, white as snow, flowing perfectly with her train swept gracefully behind her. My princess was stunning beauty; a tear would have risen from my eyes had they not been held back with the cheeks from my smile. The doors were closed as we waited for our cue, the music started, the gathered guests rose to their feet, necks craning for a view of the bride.
For that brief moment, I am lost in two worlds—on my arm is the woman, the doctor now, about to be walked down the aisle on her wedding day, but in my heart is the little girl in pigtails and PJs. The doors are opening and it’s all in slow motion. There is a breeze to my back, like a hand from above, pushing me on to that first step that I am hesitating to take. Eyes are fixed on the man at the altar, her best friend waiting to take her hand to have and to hold. There are the smiles and greetings from the guests, but all I can hear is the music and see their lips move.