The son of dear friends got married last weekend. The wedding was held at a gorgeous spot overlooking the Hudson River. People came from as far away as the Philippines. Two families, each having their own reunion and getting to know the other family on this wonderful occasion. A beautiful bride of Chinese heritage, a tall and handsome groom, and a wedding party in fall colors to match the riot of colors on the nearby hillside.
Except that the bride's father was dying of cancer, and we knew that he might not live to see his daughter's wedding. The stress and fear took a toll on both families, and there was nothing to do but wait.
And wait we did.
The priest announced that the ceremony would be slightly delayed because the father of the bride had been mistakenly taken from the hospital to the hotel where the guests were staying, rather than to the site of the wedding. The flower girls picked up the petals that they had prematurely strewn in the aisle. The guests talked in hushed tones. The quartet played on.
At last the ceremony began, an hour late. The flower girls, adorable in their deep red dresses, re-dropped the petals from their baskets. The groomsmen came down the aisle followed by the bridesmaids, also in deep red gowns. Everyone stood as the bride's mother and father appeared at the head of the aisle. This brave, brave man had the will to live to see his daughter marry, and there he was, in a wheelchair, oxygen streaming through a tube, probably full of pain medication, but wearing a tuxedo. His wife and son lovingly pushed him down the aisle, with the bride at his side.
I passed out all the tissues in my purse to people in my row. There was not a dry eye among the guests.
The ceremony was long. The bride's mother's anxious eyes looked tenderly upon her ill husband as often as upon the bride. It was difficult to imagine what was going through her mind. But they made it through the ceremony and accompanied by a nurse and wrapped in blankets, the father was able to greet family and friends, and seemed to be quite animated during the reception.
I assumed he had been taken back to the hospital, but after lunch, his daughter and her new husband and her brother wheeled him onto the dance floor where the photographer snapped pictures of this unforgettable moment.