By Don Aguiar
Mumbai, July 19, 2019: Exactly twelve weeks ago I walked my daughter down the aisle to hand her over to a new man in her life.
For me it was months of conflicting thoughts;
My arms started to feel empty. She’d nestle there through most of her childhood life, telling me about gigantic problems little girls went through in school and around their homes and after I’d heard her out, talked to her, comforted her and allowed her to lay her head awhile in these same arms and after a while she went back to play while I stood at the window watching, and now trying to solve her worries which had become mine.
I was enough for her not long ago, I was her number one she told me so, the one that I read all those fairy tales to and tucked her into bed all those nights. I held her first and she still means the world to me and a place in my heart will always be hers. From the first breadth she breathed, when she first smiled at me I knew that the love of a father runs deep.
Memories flood my mind of the little girl I know. Once upon a time she held my hand so tight and used to say – “walk a little slower daddy I’m following your footsteps and I don’t want to fall, sometimes your steps are very fast, sometimes they are hard to see, for you are leading me. I must follow you”. Teaching her to ride the bicycle she used to say – “hold tightly daddy I am falling” and then she picked up quiet fast.
She like playing card games which included Uno as well as snakes and ladders and Monopoly as she was kind of lucky which also benefited her while playing housie. We spent good amount of time in the gardens and parks as she liked being among the flowers and birds and became an authority on them.
On the beach the sand castles she built had their own story. Siting silently listening to the waves “talking” had another story she’d tell, and then seeing the setting sun and counting the stars which she liked very much and which brought that fun filled excitement of achievement in her in naming them, another story….. Yes, daddy’s listening…. Kite flying brought excitement particularly when she was given to hold and direct the kite when it was high in the sky and so also was fishing in the river in the rowboat and getting impatient with no immediate catch and suddenly a burst of excitement with the catch disturbing the total quietness all around.
She dedicatedly every year made her own birthday card for me with her crayons and colour pencil and later in her teens on her computer with loving wordings and drawings and be the one to light the candles and blow them for me on my birthday cake. Into her collage days her natural talent for cooking took shape under the guidance of her mother who is an accomplished one.
Her love to travel, meet different people and cultures and the quest to excel in her field took her to places worldwide as she is sincere and likeable in her profession. But no matter whichever part of the world she was and the workload she had, she eagerly looked forward to the quarterly trips we made to spend time with her.
Growing up years were easy the time just flew on by, and the years began to fly. Yes, and then she grew up, a bit too soon. Time changes everything and life must go on, and I’m not going to stand in her way. How can that beautiful woman be the same freckled face kid that I knew? She is daddy’s little angel. And it’s still hard to give her away.
And then twelve week ago I had to walk her into a new life: One, where I wouldn’t be around to hold her as she started her first baby steps into marriage. She’d have to walk forward, hopefully guided by all that her mother and I had taught her, and finding new confidence as she shaped anew her own family together.
And so I went through a variety of emotions and remembered what my papa said to me one day – “Son, I’m proud of how you’ve grown, go out and make it on your own. Don’t worry. I’m O.K. alone. There are things that you must do, there’s places you must see.” I remembered that every time I kissed my children Papa’s words ring true. He said, “Children live through you. Let them grow! They’ll leave you, too.”
But a few days before the wedding, a new and wondrous thought flashed through my mind: that the One above who had always been there for me, would also be there for her. What was the need to worry?
“Lord,” I prayed, “Lord” I whispered, “You’re telling me something?”
The calm that followed was dramatic. It was like a gentle wave flowing over me, removing with its ebb all fears and conflicting emotions. Just like she had lain in my own arms I felt strong Divine arms would hold her.
“Don, I’ll care for her, like you’ve cared for her and more. Like you’ve been a father to her, I will continue being one for her! You will walk her down the aisles Don, but even as you step aside, I won’t. I will walk on with her and him. I will be there every step of their lives!”
“How silly of me to worry Lord!”
And then I felt the lifting of all my fears and a sense of peace, a stillness which a God above had enveloped me with and which I know would be there for my child too, as she too, going through her own varying thoughts and emotions, would get to know, that even as her earthly father stopped at the end of the aisle, her Heavenly Father would walk on with her into her new life.
She has been a wonderful daughter to us and at this point of our parting with her into another’s keeping we thank her for all the unbroken years of joy that she has given us. The memories will last. She will still always be daddy’s little angel.