Planning My Father-Daughter Dance Without My Dad
Each day my perfect trip down the aisle grows closer, my mind wanders ever closer to my father, who, even in death, is teaching me that grief doesn’t have to overshadow joy.
Photos courtesy Lilly Dancyger
When I thought about the part of a typical wedding reception where the groom dances with his mother and the bride dances with her father, I seriously considered not having a reception at all. I came home crying one night, revealing to my fiancé that through all of our wedding planning, part of me had been dreading having a wedding without my father there. I didn’t know how to explain the guilt I felt about starting this whole new chapter of my life as an adult who he didn’t live to meet. “I know it’s not logical,” I prefaced. “But it kind of feels like leaving him behind.”
The last time I saw my father, when I was eleven years old, we said goodbye after a weekend together at a diner called Hamburger Mary’s. I had a grilled cheese and a chocolate milkshake, which I drank as slowly as possible to extend our visit by just a few more minutes — I hadn’t seen him in almost six months, and I didn’t know when I would again.