It was a long walk, but a walk I have made many times as I have marched up and down the center aisle of the church for countless years. This walk, unlike others, was a really long walk, though, and in some ways quite difficult. The great thing was that I was giving my daughter away to a really good man. I knew somehow that things would never be the same after that walk. What is odd and gives you mixed emotions is the fact that you know this has to happen; not only that but it must happen because a full life demands that you walk through the life passages in order to uncover life’s mysteries. You count these events differently and even add to them, but you must go through them. For me they include baptism, confirmation, high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, children, and, of course, death.
So, there I was walking a beautiful woman down the aisle of my church on October 8, with a few people telling me to smile. I was just trying to hold it together as memories were flashing before me – how could this be? – how old am I really? – where did all the years go? – and then you hear the words, “Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?”, and out of my mouth comes, “Her mother and I do.” I don’t remember much after that. It’s all a blur. The day continued at astronomical speed and then it was over, except for the bills.
If you haven’t been through it, it’s hard to explain – all the time, energy, anxiety, worry, excitement, and money that goes into the planning of this “nano second of life.” Despite the cynicism of our times, the brokenness of relationships, and the mountain of failed marriages, this passage, if it’s done well, is a life changer. Nothing will be the same again. It is the culmination of countless dates and what seems like endless courting and, finally, you are at the altar, the start of a life that you can’t predict. There will be heartbreaks, challenges, tears, laughter, joy, and amazing surprises, like children. People feel that the wedding is as good as it gets, but that is not true. In the best of circumstances your relationship gets better and better, as you grow and discover the joys of lifelong companionship.
All of that is so very true. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for the father of the bride. As Tom Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again”. I feel the conflicting emotions of letting go of the past and embracing what will hopefully be an even better future, and perhaps as parents it’s a passage that you have to walk through, too, beginning with a walk down the center aisle of a church. May God bless this couple!