My baby girl is getting married. The little girl who captured my heart 27 years ago when she was born with the roundest head I had ever seen. The little girl who I rocked to sleep, who often snuck into our bedroom to sleep on the floor next to her mother, who learned to snow ski between my legs and cried all the way down the mountain in a blizzard, who could be soft and cuddly or rough and tumble, who could throw a softball and catch a bass, my baby daughter who is somehow a child of the sixties is marrying some guy named Lyle. Oh, shit!
It's not a big surprise, in fact, it's time, and even I accept that it's time. Lyle is a good guy who has passed the Marty test, Erin is special, they are a match, a good match, it’s very clear they love each other.
I don't have the first clue about weddings and I’m in over my head. I miss Marty. I know all about marriage and I'm a veritable font of unwanted, unneeded and unheeded advice about marriage. I know zero about the social graces and rules and societal laws which apply to this process on which we are embarking. That's where Marty would have been my guide.
When Marty and I got married 35 years ago my job was to keep Marty from having a hit put out on her mom and to be where I was assigned when I was told. When Matt, our eldest got married, my job was simply don't make things harder and get out of the way. Somehow this seems like it’s going to be more complicated for the father of the bride.
Marty was one of the world's great idea people. She would have been perfect in some very esoteric think tank. Her innate ability to see things others don't see and to capture different perspectives were an incredible complement to my more basic view of, well, everything. Sometimes she made the simple complicated and the easy hard, but she never settled and she would have been dead smack in the middle of planning this wedding and she would have found unique ways to craft every minute of the event. It was an integral part of her nature that the strokes took away from all of us.
That's just one part my wife I miss. I know the kids often miss the consummate "mom" part of Marty and I know Erin feels this deeply. It's when we are faced with milestones like a wedding or a baptism or a birth that I miss the old Marty the most. The feeling of my loss, the knowledge of her loss, the feeling of being on an island alone is sharpest and most poignant when we are faced with touchstone moments in our life. It's when I am most reminded of what has changed, what is gone forever and how different life is for us.
As happy as Erin is about this union she feels a very real, almost tactile sense of loss. There are times Erin misses her old mother. She doesn't miss the love, because the love is still there and obvious in the way Marty touches her and looks at her; Erin simply misses the mothering Marty did so well, both of our kids do. I try, I truly try and remember how Marty would have handled a situation or what she might have said, but I'm just a big ol' hairy, occasionally impatient Dad, it's just not the same, I don’t have the same skills. They are stuck with a good father but a poor substitute for a wise and sage mom.
We all realize we are lucky to have Marty in any capacity to participate, to help choose, to simply be there for the wedding. We all appreciate and recognize the good and great gifts Marty still brings to all of our lives. Those things are very real; you just can't forget what was.
The best part of what will transpire over the next months in planning this little soiree is Marty and Erin won't be fighting as many mothers and daughters do while planning a wedding. The sad part is that Marty and Erin won't be fighting as many mothers and daughters do while planning a wedding.
The plan for now is to involve Marty in all elements that seem reasonable and in ways she tells us she wants to help. She wants to be involved, she wants to help choose a dress, and she will be great at helping with the cake (me too), we simply want to keep her engaged to the extent it feels good for her and for Erin. She has already helped me go through the first pass of a guest list and she has started planning in her own mind what she wants to wear as the Mother of the Bride.
For me, I know, I get it, Father of the Bride's main job is say, "okay, that's sounds great." I got that down, now I just need someone to help me with where to stand, and Marty has already offered to tell me where to go…..