Not crying was simply not an option


I told myself I wasn’t going to cry. Not only that, I wasn’t going to even tear up.

Now, I am not one of those “men” who never cry. I actually think never showing emotion is trying to stifle your humanity. We all need a good cry every now and then – and not just at those gut wrenching abandoned animal commercials.

I have been known to cry from time to time. I will admit I was a bit of a crybaby when I was a kid, but I have always been pretty emotional. I get it honestly, as I come from a family of emotional people, i.e. criers.

But this was my daughter’s wedding, held recently in Duluth, Minn., and the last thing I wanted to do was cry. There is this tradition I had never heard of called “first look,” where she comes into the room as I have my back turned, taps me on the shoulder and I turn around. The photographer captures the moment I see her in her dress for the first time.

I told my wife I was not going to cry, and I actually believed it until the moment my little girl tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around and saw her in her beautiful wedding dress.

OK, I didn’t totally lose it, but it was pretty close. And I am sure this was not some masculine moment with a few tears of joy. I didn’t blubber exactly, but I am not looking forward to seeing the pictures.

But how could I not get a little weepy? Here was my little girl, my only girl – the only girl in my family – in a wedding dress on the day of her wedding. Here is the little angel that I held in my arms the day she came home from the hospital. Here was the little girl who walked and talked way early, who loved Halloween candy probably too much and who got anything she wanted when she called me daddy.

Her mother and I divorced long ago, but my daughter and I have remained close. We still talk probably three or four times a week and always have, no matter what is happening in our lives. We talked through high school, through college, when she was getting her first teaching job. We also talked the day she was going to meet some kid she was talking to online who lived in Duluth. I was, of course, not thrilled about her going up there, but she was an adult and I trusted her.

Well, that young man is now my son in law. And he is a great guy. He is in the Air Force, like I was, so how could I not like him?

We talked a lot about the wedding, and as COVID-19 hit, she was always unsure whether it would go on or not. Ultimately it did. We all had to wear masks except when we were eating or drinking, and it didn’t hurt the ceremony or the reception one bit. In fact, it probably made it a little more special.

Walking my daughter down the aisle was a thrill for me. I am so proud of the woman she has become. She is a funny, warm, open and accepting person. As we walked slowly down the aisle, I looked at her husband-to-be. All he saw was her. It was such a look of love than any father would feel comforted about giving this man the hand of his daughter.

My brother flew in from Arizona to perform the ceremony. My other brother flew in from California, so we had a little reunion. It was a night to remember for many reasons.

So now my daughter has a different last name. Yes, it is a little weird, but I am getting used to it.

In fact, when I think about it, I can’t help but shed a little tear of joy. I am a crier after all.