Family Life

White-Hot Anxiety

A couple of years ago, a writing prompt led to this captured moment. Nerve-wracking. Life changing:

The Wedding Day.

No one is here, save Dad and me.  The warm, yellow light of September filters through the stained glass, softening edges, blurring reality.  Without wanting to appear so, I hang on to Dad as though he were some sort of lifeline, my left hand desperately clutching his right arm.  Just ahead looms a sea of humanity conveniently parted by an aisle, at the moment more like a gangplank than a flower-strewn path leading to ‘do you take this man…?’  At my side, Dad.  Steady and secure, he anchors me to reality, providing always, safe harbor.   The whirlwind of planning and showers and flowers and dresses and invitations and music and dinner and cake has calmed, and, to complete the metaphor, the wind…  well, the wind seems to have decidedly left my sails.  But – the music playing, the people witnessing, the candles flickering, and for Heaven’s sake! the groom – MY groom, waiting  – I can’t just stand here clutching Dad’s arm forever.  My dress is perfectly fanned, my veil perfectly placed – my nerves, perfectly frazzled.  It’s now or never.  (is that Elvis I hear?)  Dad leans in and asks if I’m okay.  Other than the fact that I can’t seem to draw breath, I’m fine.   Everything is perfect.  Really.  My brother, left with no one else to usher, steps into the foyer with us, pulling the doors to the sanctuary shut behind him as my matron of honor makes her way up the aisle.  A grin escapes as he pretends to be serious in asking,  “Do you need me to run interference for you while you make a clean getaway?”

“Very funny,” I retort.

And it is.  The tension, mercifully, is broken.  Tim re-opens the doors as Dad squeezes my arm and says, “Are you ready, little one?”  Those soft blue eyes of his meet mine, and I realize I’m about to forsake my first love for the love of my life.  My head nods obediently – of course I’m ready.  (I know this is the expected response.) But on the inside, where my thoughts swirl and my heart pounds and my breath seems trapped in lungs that have ceased their proper function, I realize that those people up there (oh sure, some would call them friends and family) are all waiting expectantly.  For cryin’ out loud, they are here because I (okay, we) invited them.   They are here to watch the walk down the aisle, to hear the vows of our love and devotion, to affirm our decision to get MARRIED!  What was I (okay, we!) thinking?  What if I trip?  These stupid high heels!  What if the best man drops the ring?  Did someone put the rings on the ring pillow???  What if someone actually speaks up when the pastor asks if there’s anyone who objects to this marriage??  I will punch him right in the face!  (Is he actually going to ask that?!) What if Jeff isn’t up there, waiting?  What if my stupid brother asked him if he needed someone to ‘run interference’ for him?!?!  What if – oh! the music.  This is it, Becky.  Dad, please don’t let go just yet.   As we start that agonizing walk down the gang – er, the white-carpeted aisle, white-hot anxiety chokes me even as I smile in anticipation.  Ready or not.  Here comes the bride.

2 thoughts on “White-Hot Anxiety

  1. Ah, Becky, this brought back wonderful memories for me. I smiled as I thought of my father on that same memorable day. I swear the popping of my nervous knees was so loud I was certain the sound could be heard OUTSIDE the church. My father just squeezed my hand tighter to his side as I clutched his arm. He smiled, and continued down the aisle with me in tow…
    I’m not sure he was ready to give his ‘baby’ away, but he was much braver than I.
    Thank you for this heart-warming memory.

    • Dads & Daughters. Husbands & Wives. Astonishing changes in a twinkling of an eye. I think there’s something hiding in the alteration that whispers, ‘an eternal change is coming — see! I make all things new.’ 🙂

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