Friday, May 26, 2006

Primary Moments

On the ramp-up to Debra's wedding, I had a couple of people ask me if I was excited. I couldn't answer that -- at least not in the way the questioner meant. Yes, of course, stress levels were increasing. I could say I was happy, I was pleased, but excited?

In my life there have been a few, primary, life-changing moments. I may not anticipate these, I may not seek them out, and I'm not really excited that they may come, but when they do, it is profound.

I can remember my own wedding. No, I don't remember the vows. I don't remember who was there, or the music, or any of those details. But I have a clear, vivid memory of Mary Ann coming down the isle. I can feel how I stood, I can remember my posture. I can remember thinking, "This is my day. This is my wedding. She is my wife."

I can remember the first time I held my newborn children. I looked at the little bundle in my arms and the world ... clicked. I was a father. From that instant, everything was different. When I held Debra, my daughter, I was her protector. I could feel a lifetime of duty settle into place, and it wasn't a burden to be feared, it was a clear path I could see into the future.

Yesterday, I waited at the arch for the bridesmaids to pass by, and then the flowergirl. It seemed forever for them to make their way down the path. The music paused and Debra, in her fine dress, came up. I offered my arm and we began our way down the path. I whispered "Steps" as we approached a little drop, not that she needed it. She was doing wonderfully.

And then the path turned, and we began the final leg. I felt ... full. It was a wonderful moment. I said nothing, but in my heart, I was showing this group of people my wonderful, beautiful, perfect daughter. My face must have been something to see.

And there was Jonathan, waiting. He must have been feeling what I had felt all those decades ago. I hoped Debra could feel that joy. We walked up to our spots and waited for the music and the cue. The preacher gave us a look that said, "We're here. Everything's right on course. Be at ease." And then he began his wedding sermon.

A moment later, "Who gives ..." I don't remember the words, but I gave my prepared resonse, "Her mother and I do." And I meant it without reservation. Jonathan was perfect for her.

Debra gave my hand a squeeze and I handed her over. I stepped over to my seat and sat down.

And the world had changed. Debra will always be in my life, but it was if while watching a TV show, the picture turned off. Her life will go on, and be full and beautiful and joyous and hard, just as it's supposed to be, but some part of that duty that settled on me at her birth was not mine to carry any more, and her path would lead places where I could just watch from a distance. Jonathan would walk with her their own path into the future.

She had been handed on, and I could close my eyes.

2 comments:

Chris said...

It was a very nice wedding, and your daughter looks very happy. Congrats!

Jeanette said...

Henry,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I must confess I shed a few tears as I read the memories and the way you expressed the events so vividly. This is beautiful and what a treasure for Mary Ann and Debra.

I wish Jonathan and Debra the best in their life together. The wedding was perfect and I am happy to have been a part of it.









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