The Wedding Gift

March 7, 2011
I reluctantly opened my eyes. Staring into the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself. My hair was piled on top of my head in a fountain of curls that framed my face perfectly. My eyes were electrifying.
“Wow Em,” I said to my best friend Emily who was playing makeup artist for the day, “I look….”
“You look beautiful” she finished for me.
It was my wedding day, and I looked perfect.

As soon as I woke up that morning, the nerves rushed all over my body. I felt like I could burst at any moment. When Emily showed up to help me get ready it helped calm my nerves, but they were still there. I had been planning this day for the past year. We were having the wedding at a ballroom overlooking the oceanfront. It was a perfect summer day in California, but the wedding wouldn’t be until later at sunset. I had spent the morning working out some last minute details and now it was time to finish getting ready.

We pulled up in our long, sleek limo to the grand entrance of the garden around the building. I stepped out of the limo and the aroma of roses surrounded me. Later, the lights twisted through the rose bushes would illuminate the area and sparkle like the night sky. My wedding planner helped us carefully navigate the intricate network of hallways through the building until we arrived at the room I would finish dressing in. Emily helped me put on my dress. As it floated down around me, I felt like a princess. This was my dream dress and it was perfect. It had a fitted, beaded bodice with a sweetheart neckline and a full skirt with beading along the bottom. It fit the grand style of the venue perfectly.

As soon as I finished getting ready I went outside to meet Emily, my maid of honor, and my other bridesmaids in the garden for pictures. This day had gone by in a blur, and I couldn’t believe we were edging closer to the actual wedding ceremony. I couldn’t wait to marry Aaron. He was the most perfect guy I had ever met. Except for one other, but I quickly pushed that thought out of my head as quickly as it had popped in. I couldn’t let old skeletons ruin this day. I wouldn’t.

All of the girls were posed, smiling for a picture, when suddenly Emily’s voice rang above everything else.
“Holy crap!” she said.
“What’s the matter?” I answered, a feeling of dread rushing over me.
“Um, your dad is here….” She said slowly.
“What?” I answered confused.
This didn’t make sense. I hadn’t seen my dad in four years, not since I had run away from home to get away from my childhood as quickly as possible. As soon as I turned around, there he was.

I had a normal childhood. I had a loving mother and father, a nice house by the beach in Texas and a dog named Ali. Everything was great, until my mom decided things weren’t so perfect on her end, got a divorce and moved to New York City. My father and I had a typical father-daughter relationship until that point. Any time I had a problem, I could always count on him to make it better. I could persuade him to get me anything. He had always been there, but after the divorce things changed. I started drifting away. I didn’t want to be at home because it was different than what it used to be and I couldn’t accept that, so my dad changed with me. At first he tried being stricter, trying to force me to act like nothing had changed, but all that did was push me further away. I felt like I was suffocating in my own home. After a while, he gave up. He didn’t question me about where I was going or where I had been. Our lives went in separate directions, and didn’t seem to be coming back together any time soon.

I decided that I had to do something to turn my life around, so I applied to California State. I didn’t know if I should tell my dad what I had done, or if I should just leave. We hardly spoke anymore, and I couldn’t think of just how to tell him, so I did the cowardly thing; I wrote him a letter.


I’m sorry for the past couple of years. I know they have been just as hard for you as they were for me. But I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s time for me to move on, and start my own life. I was accepted at California State and have decided to move. As you know I am horrible at goodbyes and figured this would be the easiest way to do it. Thanks for all you have done.



My first day at college, I met Aaron. He sat next to me in my Calculus class. We both got to class a little early the first day and started talking. That was all it took, we dated all through college. One day, the summer after graduation, Aaron and I were walking along the beach. We were talking about something random, when suddenly he stopped me mid sentence.
“Jenna, I love you so much. I can’t imagine anyone more perfect and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
I was so surprised it took me a second to take in what he was saying.
“Of course” I quickly replied as soon as I realized what he was saying. He gave me the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. When Aaron slid it on my finger, it just felt right. I knew this was who I was meant to be with. However, I was slightly scared to make this commitment. I thought about how young my parents were when they got married and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes, but I loved Aaron and hadn’t ever been happier than when I was with him.

Plans for the wedding started as soon as I told Emily about the engagement. The past year had gone by so quickly, I never thought about inviting my father to the wedding. I figured he wouldn’t care, but as we stood there staring at each other, it hit me that he was really here. Emily must have sent him an invitation to let him know about it, and left the decision up to him about coming. And he did. That must mean that he still cared, he wasn’t angry with me and wanted to see me. I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I couldn’t think of what to do. Suddenly, without even realizing it, I found myself running over to him and giving him a big hug.
“You came!” Was all I could muster up to say through the overwhelming emotions filling me.
“Of course I did sweetheart. I would never miss this.” He said with a warm smile. “But you aren’t mad at me?” I asked, feeling like a child again.
“Jenna, I wish you would have stayed, but no, I’m not mad. It looks like you did quite well on your own. I’ve just missed you so much.”
I stood there wrapped in his embrace. I had been dreaming of this moment for a long time, but was too afraid to face my father. I figured he was furious with me, and never wanted to see me again. I was wrong. Now I felt horrible for making the decision to run away and leave him so worried for all these years.

After what seemed like an eternity, we broke apart from each other. That’s when I remembered everyone else was still standing around us watching. I felt like I should explain myself so I said, “Everyone, this is my father.” Those few words seemed to explain it all. I turned to my dad, “I guess I should get back to the pictures. But you can be in the pictures of the whole bridal party later.”
“Ok honey, I will see you later. Have fun!”
In the course of five minutes everything had changed. My father was here on the most important day of my life. Now this day really was perfect.

Once the pictures were done, it was finally time to start the ceremony. Everyone started arriving right as the sun began descending toward the horizon. Shortly after, Aaron took his place at the altar. It was time; I no longer had to walk down the aisle alone. Now I had my father to accompany me. He came up beside me while I was waiting behind the closed doors to enter the ballroom.
“You ready?” he asked.
“I guess as ready as I will ever be,” I said with a laugh.
We took our positions and the doors swung open. The whole back wall was floor-to-ceiling windows facing the ocean. An array of orange, pink, and yellow light filtered through them from the sunset. The aisle was covered in rose petals, and at the end was a set of steps leading up to a platform where Aaron and the minister stood waiting. I was so stunned by the beauty of everything I forgot I was supposed to be walking. My father gently nudged me forward and we started moving. I was heading toward the love of my life and my future. Next to me was my dad, the one who had guided me through my childhood and helped make me the person I was today. These were the most important men in my life, and I now had both of them.

“A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.”
~Author Unknown

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