In This Moment
I wouldn't expect anything less today, really. There isn't a cloud in the sky, and the temperature is just right—not too hot, not too cold. Like Goldilocks' porridge, I suppose.
The image of the old children's story makes me smile; I loved that story as a kid, and loved reading it to my children when they were younger.
Was it really so long ago?
I sigh, and check my reflection in the mirror of our old mahogany dresser—a gift from our friends shortly after we moved into this house. The reflection that greets me startles me still—lines frame my eyes—more each day. Then there are the grey hairs that more than line my temples nowadays.
Nowadays? When the hell did I start using old-man words like nowadays?
I sigh and shake my head, stopping only when I spy my wife's reflection, looking back at mine. I turn to look at her, and smile.
It amazes me that, after all these years, she can still take my breath away.
"You look stunning," I whisper, in that awed way I always do when I see her all dolled up.
Seriously, who talks like this?
"You don't look half-bad yourself, handsome," she smiles seductively, and saunters toward me.
"My tie is still crooked," I moan, knowing that she's already picked up on this.
"C'mere," she smiles that smile that she has always reserved just for me, as she tugs on the ends of my bowtie, "there…perfect."
"Thank you, baby," I grin, and kiss her on the lips. I pull away, and study her for a moment. She watches me, then squirms slightly under my gaze.
"What?" she asks shyly, and steps back slightly.
"I love you," is all I can say, though it doesn't nearly explain what I was thinking in that moment. I want to tell her that looking into her eyes is like looking into a lifetime…into my soul, but somehow, it seems inadequate—and a little cheesy. Instead, I decide to change the subject.
"They left for the church already. We'd better get going too."
I nod, and spare one last glance at myself, before following Monica out of our bedroom, and downstairs.
"You okay?" I ask, as I place a supportive hand on Monica's shoulder. She's been weepy ever since we got to the church, and I am starting to worry that she is going to really lose it in a minute.
"Fine, fine," she repeats, as she dabs her eyes with her handkerchief, "I just can't believe it's here already."
"I know," I whisper, and my mind begins to drift slightly. It seems like only yesterday we were carrying our children into our new home for the first time.
"Uncle Chandler? Erica's ready for you," Emma appears as if from nowhere, a large grin lining her beautiful face. She pushes her auburn hair from her eyes, and adjusts her red bridesmaid's dress, as she awaits my reply.
"Okay. Mon, you okay?" I ask again, and I see Jack approaching from my left. He towers over me now, making me feel even older. I look up at him, then back down at Monica.
"Jack is gonna walk you down the aisle. I'll see you in a few, okay?"
Monica nods, and I can see that she doesn't trust herself to say anything. I smile, and kiss her softly, before following Emma back toward the dressing room. Emma knocks twice, and upon hearing a muffled 'okay', she swings open the door, and steps inside.
As I follow her, I can't help but to notice that this room seems to glow—perhaps it's because the now-fading October sun is shining brightly through the frosted windows in the back of the room—but I doubt it.
My only daughter stands in the center of the room, studying her reflection in a large mirror that stands in front of her. She is wrapped in an amazing white dress, and her dark blonde hair sits in perfect curls on the top of her head. Her face is shrouded by a thin white veil, and in her hands, she carries a bouquet of roses that look very similar to the ones Monica carried on the day we were married.
Erica turns to look at me as I enter, and my heart stops. She is simply breathtaking.
In that moment, I see her entire life flash before me—the day she surprised us just by being born, the day she said her first word ('Dada'—much to Monica's chagrin), the day she took her first step. I recalled her first scraped knee, her first day of school, and her first big science project. There was her first dance recital, her first tennis match, and her first crush.
I remembered her first school prom, her first love, and her first heartbreak. I remembered everything—every moment, and as she smiled at me, in this last moment when she was only mine, I felt my knees weaken, and the tears fall.
"Oh, Daddy, don't cry, because if you cry, I'll cry, and I don't know if this mascara is waterproof!"
She walks toward me, her dress rustling like dried leaves, and lifts her handkerchief to my damp face.
"I'm sorry, honey…you're just…all grown up," is all I can manage to say.
"I'll always be your daughter though," she smiles, "I'll always be your little girl."
I smile at this, knowing that it's true. Years ago, when she was packing her things, to head off to University, we had made the same promise.
"You'll always be my little girl," I'd said, "No matter where you go."
She pulls me into a hug, reassuring me that she will always remember too. I pull away, and offer my arm, which she takes with a grin.
"Come on," I smile, "your prince is waiting."