I'm remembering a wedding almost twelve years ago, when we were four. My Papa, the minister, escorting my glowing sister down the aisle. In eight days, I'll walk down the aisle of a church in my bridal gown toward my groom, and I'll travel it alone.
As a little girl and then a girl growing up into a woman, I never envisioned making that journey down the aisle without my hand resting on Papa's arm. After he passed from this world to the next, I stared out for months into what seemed like darkness, bleakness. The total severing of my life from his. Thankfully, the night gradually gave way to light swallowing dark, hope swallowing heaviness, life swallowing death.
The sketch of us in embrace, drawn from a photo taken of us at my grad school graduation, finally finds a home in a frame on the wall above my writing desk. Papa's smile is here, and I feel it as real as the warm tears streaking down my cheeks. For a moment, eternity and the present limitations of time on earth come close, as if to kiss. A mirror held up, I peer through, reach out and touch dim glass where I see him.
I whisper his name. I'm not alone.
In eight days, his arm won't be there to prop my hand, but the ring he wore for nearly thirty-six years as a promise to love my mom for as long as they both shall live will be tucked into my bouquet. And before God, my true Papa, I'll stand with the man I love and vow to love him for as long as we both shall live. I know both my Papas will be there smiling.