Four days ago my son walked up the aisle with his bride.
I was not prepared. That’s it – I was not prepared. I expected a few tears, after all what’s a wedding without tears. I anticipated a smudging of pride. I foresaw a hangover.
|Richard and Raian|
What I didn’t predict and what nobody warned me of was the memories. They didn’t flood in to my sleep deprived brain as I watched him speak his vows or even as he stood before the room crowded with floral guests and hushed children to deliver his perfect - unrehearsed – speech.
The memories came later that day, much later. The rest of the guests might have slept with images of the chocolate box wedding tattooed on their eyelids, I had other images.
I remembered his smile as I distracted him with silly stories when the nurse injected cloudy anesthesia in the back of his pudgy four year old hand. I remembered praying as he vanished into the death sleep. Sleeping, night after night, by his hospital bed, and using my fist to silence my own screams the first night I brought him home.
I remembered other, un-shareable, nights I lay awake, hands clenched, praying he’d be safe.
I remembered his grandfather’s (my father) smile as he said: ‘Richard just gave me the proudest moment of my life.’
But most of all I kept remembering his smile as he danced the first dance with his new bride.
Each time I freeze frame Richard’s first dance and see his face as he sings the words to Raian. I see a smile that belongs only to her, a smile filled with so much love, so much promise and honesty that it physically hurts.
For a moment on the dance floor I think it was just them, they forgot about the hundreds of people watching, cameras flashing and videos whirling. They didn’t see people sharing smiles, couples reaching for each other, or dozens of guests placing their drinks down and hurriedly grab tissues. They didn’t see me letting go of my first baby – my first baby.
Richard's smile at 1.10 seconds. That's it.