Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 10:59 AM
Some 22 years ago, I held her tiny hands as she tried to take her first steps in life.
Friday night, I held those very same hands, much bigger now, as she stepped into her new life. One where I was no longer the main man.
Maybe I hadn’t been that guy for some time, but I was still the first she called when her tire was flat, or her car won’t start, or she needed a ride home.
I would often joke about how I could not wait for the day when she had somebody else to call.
Now as I stood at the back of a church, I realized that day had come.
The walk of her lifetime was moments away, yet it was my knees which were knocking and my legs that were shaking.
She had finally come of age, and I had gotten older.
Dressed in her white dress she reminded me of her mother years before, grace with beauty and determined to take on the world.
Her smile showed she was ready, my tears confirmed I was not.
Then the music started and one by one her bridesmaids slowly began their march.
Time was running out as each one seemed to go faster and faster, almost racing their way toward the alter.
Soon it would be just her and I, the final moments before our relationship would change forever.
I don’t know what she was thinking but my mind raced through the years.
It was then I realized even though she had grown on the outside, despite two-plus decades she remained in my mind that little girl taking her first steps.
Now, as the last of her entourage left us it was just her and I. So many things you want to say, but time is running out.
It has been that way since she was born. You want to stop time, if just to savor a moment, but you can’t.
A few words stumbled out of my mouth, nonsense most likely. She probably didn’t hear them in her excitement anyway.
Then the music changed, the doors swung open and the time had come to walk her into the hands of another.
She grabbed my arm and began the journey.
As she did so I realized how anxious she must have been to get into her new man’s grasp, but it still felt like she was running from mine.
As we went her pace quickened it seemed just when I would have liked nothing better than to slow her down. But she has always been in a hurry to get wherever she was going so this was nothing new.
It reminds me of the days she used to have me chase her around our old apartment complex years ago and miles away.
Then she would run around the next corner, stopping when she just got out of sight. There she would wait until she knew I was still following and was safe before she would take off again for the next corner.
She was a girl who loved the journey, and still does.
What always got me was how she would smile each time she saw me come around that corner, knowing I was still chasing and that she was safe.
In our final steps together last Friday, I noticed that same smile but it wasn’t directed toward me anymore. It was focused on the guy at the end of the aisle who was anxiously awaiting her.
The end of our trip that day came way too fast for me, way too slow for her. A quick kiss on the cheek to her, a shake of the hand for him and it was time for me to do my final act as daddy.
I knew I would always be her father, and her my daughter, but a lot was about to change forever.
Slowly, I took her right hand and placed it in his. I didn’t want to let go but knew I must.
I’m sure that clutch lasted too long for them and not long enough for me.
As I walked back to my seat and next to my own bride, I realized I had placed my girl’s happiness into the hands of another man.
While I have trust in her decision, it was still hard to let go.
Posted By: Richard Stutes On: 1/21/2014
A great article. Having been there with my 3 beautiful daughters I know the feeling. Deep down a part of me left with each one as they embarked on their special journey in their lives.