“If I could get another chance
Another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love love love
To dance with my father again”
– Dance with my Father Again, by Luther Vandross
Getting engaged is a very weird thing, for so many reasons. I think I’m still learning some of them. Society begins to act funny towards you, everyone wants to know your business, some even know your future better than you apparently, and advice just flows like chocolate at Willy Wonka’s house. I could write on and on with how I feel about most of that, but I’m sure I’m guilty as well when it wasn’t me and I’d prefer not to feel guilty tonight 😉 Instead, I’m going to write about one specific question (well, two really) that I feel I need to explain better to the rest of society so they don’t see the need to ask anymore.
“Who’s walking you down the aisle?”
“Who’s giving you away?”
Ya see, this all stems off of another weird life changing event: losing a parent when you’re quite young. It’s funny how funny society begins to act then. (But that’s a whole different post, chapter, book for that matter, for a different day.) As most of you know, or maybe those of you around that world that sometimes visit my blog from time to time may not know, my father passed away August 29, 2009. Like many girls in this world, I was the poster child for “Daddy’s Girl”. So much so that I need to pause for a moment as I type because even typing that makes it hard for my wet eyes to see the screen.
Ok, I’m back.
I was a daddy’s girl…still am to be honest. But I also wasn’t a typical girl in the stereotypical way young girls are so often viewed. I didn’t love dolls, I hated the color pink, I wanted to be in Umbros and Sambas (look them up if you don’t know) playing with boys on the playground. I didn’t like to be called Laura because it reminded me of ballerinas not soccer players. I don’t know why, don’t ask, just did. I was always boy crazy but they never really had interest in me so I didn’t ever think of getting married. I didn’t spend my whole life thinking about it, what my dress would look like, the colors, etc. Honestly, the only thing I thought about was walking down the aisle arm in arm with my dad, seeing my mom in the front row with alligator tears in her eyes and a big smile on her face and then what my dad and I would dance our father/daughter dance too. That was IT! Truly! Those are the only few things I knew for sure would happen one day if I ever got married: I would walk down an aisle with my dad, my mom would sob and be so happy, seeing her would make me cry harder, and eventually my dad and I would dance to “You look wonderful tonight”.
Then he died.
I remember my mom telling me to “have faith” and that “miracles happen” when he was sick. It’s one of the many reasons I love her so much. She truly believes that. I almost envy her for it. But I also remember my response as I was heading from their garage into the house, “Don’t tell me that! I haven’t walked down an aisle yet!” That’s the one thing I saw blurring away into the distance when I knew he was going to die. Those memories of those moments together would never become a reality and it was crushing. After he passed away every time I have seen a friend walk down an aisle with their father or have their dance together I have done EVERYTHING in my power not to make it about me. If any of you are reading this please know that I tried not to cry, I tried not to think about it, it just happened. But please also know I have always been SO HAPPY for you in those moments and have loved getting to experience them with you. TRULY!
Then I went through some years of accepting I wasn’t ever going to get married. I had dated a lot of men and none of them were right. They weren’t (all) bad guys, they just weren’t for me for forever. So I didn’t really think about getting married anymore. From time to time when I was down and missing my dad I would get upset realizing that the main reason I was sad I would never get married was because I wouldn’t have those moments with him, my dad, one of my best friends.
And then I met Boyd. Shit! Well, two weeks into knowing him I told many of you that he was the man I was going to marry. Many laughed because I am not one to say that lightly, or to say it that soon, but I knew it. So two plus years go by and we get engaged. Wow, I’m actually going to get married, have a wedding…and my dad isn’t going to be there. (Sorry, trying not to drag this out, just give context.)
Since we got engaged many people have asked if my mom is going to walk me down the aisle and give me away. Many have asked if my brother is going to. Many have offered to. And my answer to all of these questions or offers has been, “No. No thank you. No one.” This isn’t personal. This doesn’t mean I don’t ADORE my mother, love my brother, or that I don’t realize how incredibly kind of an offer it is for men that have known me for most of my life to step in because they love me and loved my dad. Let me start with this: NO ONE is giving ANYONE away on 10/27/17! I will be a 35-year-old woman that has been on her own making a life for myself for close to 15 years. I make my own decisions and no one owns me. No one needs to give me to anyone lol I laugh because I’m not even giving myself to Boyd. I’m becoming Boyd’s partner. I am not his, he is not mine, we will still be two individuals living life side-by-side. Now please don’t get me wrong, I understand what the words “Who is giving her away?” mean and I know they aren’t necessarily meant to be taken so literally these days. But I also know I’m getting married a little older in life than many.
Now that that is off of my chest, let me say this. My mother and father did an AMAZING job of raising me, if I can say so myself, and I am honored to be their daughter. Each of them played an equal role in my development and growth and gave me more love than many will have in a lifetime. For that I am incredibly grateful. But, traditionally, it is a father that walks his daughter down an aisle, and that is the image I always had. My father and I were very open about the men I dated, he guided me through more than one break-up, gave me advice, and always knew when a man wasn’t right for me. He treated me with love and respect. He was always kind and understanding. He always knew what was best for me and helped me to learn that on my own but then was always there with me when I had to understand why. So much so that to this day I know EXACTLY what he would say to me when I am battling a decision or judging one’s character. I wish more than anything he was here to talk these things through with me but, he’s not, and that’s okay, because I knew him so well and he taught me so well that I don’t have to question what the right decision is. And when I make these decisions I know he still has my back. Why? Because he always told me, and wrote it in most cards to me, “I’m still along for the ride.” He was always on this ride called life with me. This is why when people ask me who is walking me down the aisle I say, “My dad,” because he is and he already has. He walked me through the aisles of life to get me to this point of being able to do it alone and he is always with me.
He would have known from the first time he met Boyd that he was the one for me, that he was a wonderful man that would treat me with the same love and respect that he did. And my dad will be with me that Friday evening at sunset when I walk down the aisle, solo, as an independent woman that has chosen to spend the rest of her life with a wonderful, independent, beautiful soul that he would have adored and respected and would have been honored to call his son-in-law.
My mom will be EXACTLY where I want her and always pictured her to be: in the front row, looking at me with a big smile and huge tears in her eyes, and the last slice of love I will need before I get to Boyd and make one of the biggest commitments of my life: becoming Mrs. Lauren LaViola (because who changes a name like that?!) ❤
If I could get another chance
Another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love love love
To dance with my father again
How absolutely beautiful! Now I will understand why you walk alone on that special day👍😇you’re Dad will be beside you💖
I hope and pray that my two Georgia granddaughters have this same feeling when it is time for their weddings. Such inspiring thoughts, Lauren. Blessings to you and Boyd.
Very beautiful and touching