You’ve read a near-unending avalanche of sad messages these past few months. It’s time to throw in something to lift our collective spirits.
Ellen celebrated her first wedding anniversary just a few weeks ago. I intended to post this letter to mark her first year as a bride, but other events correctly trumped the best laid plans.
This letter, however, was never mailed. I carried it with me on the plane ride to Des Moines and quietly slid it under her hotel door the morning of her wedding. Daughters and their dads have many opportunities for special moments in life, but few can top a joyous walk down the aisle.
June 15, 2009
Ellen: I must admit that when you were a peanut I never once imagined walking you down the aisle. Now that time has come and you will be a beautiful, exuberant and composed (okay, let’s reserve judgment on the composed part for a little while longer) bride.
In the grand scheme of things, what all of this says is that you are mature, you are ready, and you have everything it takes to begin a loving family. For a long time, you have been incredibly responsible in just about every aspect of your life; work, play, finances, and more. If anything, that entitles you to the day you are about to enjoy and treasure. That you took your sweet time on this deal says a lot about who you are and how you approach things.
Your mom and I, and Reid and your grandparents and Nancy and Gordie and Kristin and Jeff and Ralph and Gayle, Joe and Andy, are incredibly proud of you. As you take that longest walk that will be over so quickly, be sure to soak in the admiring views and stares because what it means is that people love and respect you. And that is both friends and family alike. Just look at the “response rate” on your invitations; if that isn’t some sort of record, I don’t know what is. That is the sure sign of how people ultimately view you and Tim. They want to be with you both on your day of triumph. Not all couples can say that.
In no way shape or form do I view this as losing a daughter, but rather, it is gaining a family that includes a still-wonderful daughter and a great, great son-in-law. That is probably the best any dad and mom can ever hope for. Your mom and I could not be happier for you and your new life. Nothing I will ever experience will make me smile any more or make me any happier than walking you down the center line and then answering Angie: “Her mother and I.”
Way to go, kid. We love you.