Five-month-old Chloe plays on the floor of the bridal salon, content to pull toys out of her diaper bag. Stephanie and I sit nearby, surrounded by racks of costly gowns, chatting. It seems not so long ago that Jessica and I sat in a similar store with baby Romario while Stephanie searched for her wedding dress.
Jessica emerges from the fitting room wearing an exquisite gown. At the sight of my daughter, unexpected tears instantly well up in my eyes, accompanied by an irrepressible wave of nostalgia.
I am, in that phenomenal moment, flooded with memories. I think of the first time I held her – how that sweet-smelling bundle snuggled into my arms. I picture the little girl tagging along behind her siblings, cuddling up on her daddy’s lap, dressing kittens in doll-clothes, scarfing down marshmallows. I remember the school girl struggling to wake up each morning, skating in the backyard, learning to read, doing endless crafts, crying over a spat with her BFF and flying high when they reconciled. Then came the teenager plastering her room with pictures of her friends, getting her driver’s licence, falling asleep with the family phone under her pillow (irritating her dad to no end). Summer afternoons by the pool, Saturday jobs, graduations, parties and campfires form a jumbled collage in my mind.
I think of the day Romario was born and the subsequent realities of Jessica’s life as a single mom. I recall how God looked after her and her son – providing absolutely everything they needed at exactly the right time. I see her sitting with a cup of tea, telling me that she wasn’t looking for a relationship at this point, but how Graham had “brought the colour back” into her world.
Now she spins around for us, “Well,” she says, “What do you think?” We all agree – this is the dress.
A NEW STORY
Six months later (on Groundhog Day!), we gather at the church. My handsome soon-to-be son-in-law escorts me to my seat. Neither of us can stop smiling. He and his attendants wait together. The procession begins: first the bridesmaids. Next, three of our granddaughters – Cassy, Abigail and Hanna scoot down the aisle, holding hands and clutching little bouquets. Then our oldest grandson, Daniel, hauls Chloe in on a wheeled sleigh. She sits like a prom queen in a parade, smiling at everyone. A heart-shaped sign adorns the back of the sleigh – “Here Comes the Bride!”
Jessica appears in the doorway, flanked by seven-year-old Romario on one side and her proud dad on the other. She beams with a mixture of happiness, excitement and hope.
Hours later the party’s almost over. My beautiful daughter in her elegant gown is still dancing with her high school friends and laughing with her new husband. It’s 1:00 a.m. My eyes are heavy, but my heart is full.
That was six weeks ago. We’ve long since returned to business as usual. The wedding is just a precious memory now. Jessica, Graham and Romario have started life together as a family. At the moment we’re anticipating Easter – the reminder of a different kind of love story, one that outshines all human relationships. As Christians we have a wedding feast unlike any other yet ahead of us. The church will be the Bride of Christ – presented to him radiant and without blemish. Because of his life, death and resurrection, she will be robed in his righteousness, refulgent in his glory and ready to spend eternity with him. What a day that will be! Let the happily ever after begin.
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