As I walked down the aisle, I was shaking and I felt sick with nerves. Was I doing the right thing? Was it right to be going ahead with it, considering everything that had happened? Should I be putting him through all this? Was it all a bit too much?
I wasn’t thinking about my future husband right then. It was my dad I was worrying about, as I held on tight to him, hoping that he wouldn’t fall. You see, he was terminally ill at the time, having been diagnosed six months earlier with cancer caused by asbestos poisoning.
The ten of us who attended our wedding tried to make the most of the day, but it was impossible not to ignore how ill my father was. The tension in the air was thick and palpable and it weighed heavily upon us all. It hung above us like a black cloud until dinner was over, when dad retired to his room. At this point you could feel the mood physically lifting. When he’d gone I felt relieved, but also guilty for feeling that way. I’m sure everyone else went through this too.
Of course, this wasn’t how I had planned my wedding. I had envisaged the ‘big day’ as most girls do. But after setting a date and starting the planning, it soon became clear that my dad’s time was coming to an end much quicker than we had anticipated. So a decision had to be made; do we go ahead and continue planning the wedding knowing that he won’t make it, or do we ditch the plans and bring it forward?
The decision was an easy one. I was a traditional kind of girl who had always considered marriage an important step and I wanted my dad to give me away. Perhaps this was selfish, because if I hadn’t have felt that way, we probably wouldn’t have bothered going through with it at all. Maybe it would have been easier for everybody that way.
During my early twenties I had witnessed friends get married and shared their journey running up to the day. This generally involved a lot of planning and a heck of a lot of stress and if I’m honest, the focus was so far removed from what was actually important about the day; the exchanging of vows. Instead it seemed more about the dress, the venue, the car, the catering, etc. One girl even announced after her wedding:
‘What am I going to do now it’s all over?’
Half of these friends are now divorced.
When I think about this I am glad that in the end, my husband and I married because we wanted to exchange our vows in front of the most important people in our lives. It wasn’t about anything else except that.
On that day, an icy 21st of December, I married my best friend and soul mate. As clichéd as that may be, it’s true and however ill my dad may have been and however much I torture myself about whether or not it was the right thing to do at the time, I know in my heart that I was glad he was there.
I may not be able to say that my wedding day was the best day of my life, but so what? Eleven years after our wedding I don’t regret a single day. There have been some tough times, of course, no marriage is easy. The important thing is that we work at it together, through the good times and the bad. I truly hope that my dad knows that the pain he put himself through that day was totally worth it.