My father loved my fiancé. I am extremely blessed, despite my father being terminal he was able to spend valuable time with my fiancée and they forged a priceless bond during the six years we dated.
My father wanted to give me away on my wedding day. He wanted to shake my new husband’s hand at the alter and tell him to take care of his daughter. He wanted to share that very special father daughter dance with me. He wanted to give the traditional father of the bride speech, but being the dynamic speaker my father was he would have had our guests both laughing and crying.
As a little girl I would practice dancing on top of my father’s feet and he would spin me around our living room until I was dizzy and I would fall to the floor giggling. I walked through life holding onto my father’s strong, comforting grip knowing that he was my protector who loved me unconditionally. As a little girl I knew that someday I would find a soul mate who possessed all the admirable qualities my Dad had, a man who loved his family fiercely and treated his wife as an equal with love, kindness and respect.
But what I didn’t prepare myself for was when my father was diagnosed with stage IV base of the tongue cancer in 2008. Seven long years later, after a very brave battle cancer stole my father from our lives forever. The one aspect of my wedding that I never predicted was being a fatherless bride.
“Grief is funny, most people assume after a few months it’s business as usual and you’re fine.”
When my father died a big piece of me died. I remember laying in bed begging God to let me see him one more time, hear his voice one more time, or maybe just take me for a quick visit and bring me back. During my early days of grief I had no voice; I had no desire to speak. I felt as if I was having a strange out of body experience. I simply observed everyone and everything. I wasn’t going through depression I was and still am grieving the loss of my father. Eventually the days turned to months and a whole year passed. I’m really not sure how I survived the first year without my Dad. It hurt like hell. I cried a lot, I still cry a lot only now I have learned how to hide my pain and disguise my tears. But one thing is certain; Ronen became my rock and my constant. He was there for me throughout my father’s illness, held my hand as I watched my father take his last breath and has not stopped wiping my tears as I mourn one of the greatest losses of my life.
Grief is funny, most people assume after a few months it’s business as usual and you’re fine. About three months into my grief journey people started asking, “So, when are you guys getting married?” Or my personal favorite, “So, are you upset that Ronen didn’t propose before your Dad died?” My grief was raw, my grief still is raw, but I would simply smile and tell people how much my father adored Ronen and how much I love and respect Ronen. Unfortunately these questions would force me to retreat into my grief bunker away from the world and its ignorance.
Grief is hard enough, the last thing a griever needs is to field stupid questions.
Ronen, the most patient man on the planet continued to wipe my tears and allow me to take shelter in my grief bunker as needed. And then on February 6, 2017 Ronen proposed to me on the beach in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida, my favorite place on the planet. Immediately after saying yes, I cried because I wanted to tell my father our wonderful news, and then I cried harder because the reality of being a fatherless daughter hit me during one of the happiest moments of my life. That’s how grief works, it’s messy and unpredictable. You’re smiling one minute and then the next you’re grabbing the nearest form of life support riding a massive wave of grief.
Almost immediately we decided on an August wedding because my father would have turned seventy this August. I wasn’t ready for the emotional roller coaster I was about to ride, I’m still not prepared for this ride. I wasn’t prepared for all the questions from vendors that involved my Dad, and having to tell these well meaning people that my Dad is dead. It doesn’t matter how you drop that bomb you will always have a few awkward moments of crickets chirping.
“My father may no longer here physically, but as my father said to me the night he died, he will always be my father and I will always be his baby.”
Planning my wedding without my father is bittersweet. I lost count of how many times I have wanted to call him for his advice or to just hear his voice. I will never have that moment that so many do with their fathers, giving the bride away, dancing and the anticipated father of the bride speech. My heart aches when I think of this.
The void of my father is massive. But there are moments where I can feel my father’s love, moments if I am quiet and listen carefully I can hear his voice and feel the warmth of his smile as the sun glistens on my face. I am realizing that I am not a fatherless bride. My father may no longer here physically, but as my father said to me the night he died, he will always be my father and I will always be his baby.
The bond with my father is unbreakable and unforgettable; no mileage, silence, or death could ever undo our connection.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let’s talk about living with loss. If you have a story you’d like to share, email us at email@example.com.