A letter to my Dad on my wedding day
Dear Daddy, My wedding weekend is here, and I don't think it has really truly hit me yet that you won't be there. I've been through all the emotions and motions without you, yet two years later it still isn't real. It is actually less real than the day you left us. We talked about and dreamt about this day for so many years together. So the fact that it has finally come and you are not here is so surreal.
After you passed away, I spent a lot of time feeling bad for everyone else in the family: mom, my sisters and the friends who lost you. It wasn't until I got engaged that I felt bad for myself. For the first time I felt like the victim of this unfortunate circumstance; I felt like the girl who was going to get married without her dad, and it was an extremely depressing and an uncomfortable feeling. For the past two years I have lived my life in honor of you. I switched careers to work with Imerman Angels to make sure no one faces cancer alone. I've hosted radio shows empowering a younger generation about cancer prevention and early detection. I thought that this work was healing me and helping me to "get over" losing you. Boy, was I wrong.
I've learned that this is a loss you never get over, and it is a healing process that lasts the rest of your life. I will begin to heal and I will rebuild myself around the loss I have suffered. I will be whole again but I'll never be the same. Nor should I. It is these major life events that make us miss you that much more.
For me, this major life event of getting married and the process that has led up to it has made me reflect on our relationship and the father and husband you were. I've found myself saying, "What would my dad do?" with any wedding dilemmas or catastrophes that have risen in the last few months. I've found myself yearning more than ever for one of your hugs or texts just to tell me "everything will be ok."
There have been so many times during this process I've looked at mom and thought, "How is she going to survive this wedding without you?" You were the dancer, the host, and the amazing, hysterical speech giver. So how on earth will she survive this night and play host without you? How will any of us survive this without you? It was after agonizing over all of these questions for months and making decisions I never thought I would have to make -- who would give me away? How would we do that father-daughter dance that I've waited my whole life for? -- that I came to a realization.
I was in a market one afternoon purchasing a bunch of wedding day goodies for my bridal party, and the cashier asked me if I was getting ready for the holidays. With a big smile I answered, "No, actually my wedding day!" She congratulated me, and then told me that every time she tells her dad she is going to get married soon, he cries and leaves the room in sheer fear of how expensive it is. I laughed and totally agreed with her dad -- getting married is not cheap! She then asked me how my dad reacted when I told him I was getting married and wanted a big wedding.
I was stumped, and while I felt the tears starting to well up in my eyes, I knew I did not want to make this nice girl at the register feel bad for asking the question. So I replied, "He is just so happy I finally found the perfect guy." I got in the car after loading in my bags and thought about how true the answer I gave was. I know how happy you are that I have finally found "my person." That I found someone who is my best friend and will have my back for the rest of my life. You've prepared me for this day for the 29 years I had you here with me. You've showed me the importance of love and friendship and the true meaning of in sickness and in health.
So I know how elated, proud, and excited you are that I am about to take this next step in life with someone who is finally so deserving of all the love I have to give. The truth is, I've felt you during this whole process and I know you are here with me. I've struggled with the best way to keep your memory alive on my special day and to make sure everyone there gets a feel for the hilarious, kind and loving father, husband and friend you were.
But the truth is, the videos and photos that will play of you are just icing on the cake. You will be there with me and with all of us. As I walk down the aisle this week and down this yellow brick road of life, I'll always be your Dorothy, and you will always be the Wizard of my Oz. I know, no matter where I roam, you will always be a part of me. So although this is a walk we will not physically take, it is a walk and path that we will forever be on together, no matter where you are.
Love, Your Forever Little Girl