On April 21st, I watched quietly while small tears leaked from my eyes, as my husband gave our youngest daughter Jess away to Chambliss, not with a kiss on the cheek but with an exploding tater hand bump complete with sound effects by Jess.
I stood by the dance floor and watched as David and Jess did the father/daughter dance. The DJ began to play Bruce Springsteen’s, “When You Need Me” and small tears leaked from my eyes as I realized David wasn’t just dancing with his daughter, he was making her a promise in the only way he could. If she ever needs him, he would be there. Then the music broke and everyone began to whisper that oh no something had gone wrong at this amazing moment. Suddenly the sound of an accordion filled the air and David and Jess broke into the Chicken Dance and everyone in the room cracked up laughing. Once again, that is the relationship between these two little birds. The moment was perfect. The chicken dance was followed up by Bob Marley’s rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” where everyone was invited to join the dance. It was a perfect moment in father/daughter land.
Weeping seemed to come freely to me this day. Since I am generally not a crier, my propensity for weeping on this wonderful occasion was recognized by my entire family. My sweet daughter, Christi, actually spit on a napkin to help wipe away a smudge of mascara that my trail of tears had created. Since we were standing at the bar at the time, this act of reverse maternal instinct was witnessed by many of our “new” family members and once again the Allens’ antics were rewarded with a few giggles from the crowd. When David finally took me in his arms and said, “You never cry, why all the tears,” I told him:
In my mind, our children’s lives have been a series of steps. First they took their first actual steps and learned to walk. They went to pre-school, then to kindergarten, then off to Jr. High and High school and finally off to College. They learned to run, to ride a bike and finally to drive a car. They got a crush, then puppy love, then their first real love and today a real live grown-up husband. For the kids, every one of these steps in their lives have been part of their journey to adulthood but for me, every step has been just one more step away from me, their Mom. My days of being able to coddle and protect Jess from all the hurts of this big mean world ended when David gave her away to Chambliss. Being the control freak I am, it is very difficult for me to let her go and trust that Chambliss will love her and care for her as diligently as I have for the past 24 years.
The final dance of the night was the bubble dance. Jess and Chambliss claimed the spot of honor in the center of the dance floor while all the wedding well-wishers blew copious amounts of bubbles into the night sky. Once again the tears slowly leaked down my face for the loss of the child that I have had the honor of raising and for the joy of witnessing the blossoming of the young woman she has become. Chambliss put his strong arms around Jess and spun her in a circle, her head buried in his chest and her feet lifted from the ground fully trusting that he would not drop her. In that beautiful moment, I realized that Chambliss was Jess’ “David” and tears of happiness flowed down my cheeks for the wonderful life I’m now sure is awaiting my sweet little girl.