Stop. I begged myself to stop, but the tears formed in the corners. I tried to lift my head up, with the hope that I could prevent the river from flowing down my cheeks. Stop. But I didn’t.
Strong. Be strong. These are the words I repeated over and over, as I witnessed the marriage of my sister and her now husband. As her feet turned the corner after the fourth vow, I felt a foray into a beginning and a proclamation of an ending. Different images popped up in my head: I remember sitting in the bleachers, cheering on my lanky teenage sister hurdling through a track meet. I remember her sneaking my Debbie Gibson vests into my closet so I wouldn’t “know” she wore them during the day. I remember eating Collin Street Bakery fruit cake with my sister, Mom and Dad during Christmas while Hindi songs blasted from the radio. So much of my sister reminds me of what was our childhood. Of course, most of those memories have my father in them too.
His absence was felt. There was one point when I noticed it the most. My mom and I were sitting during the garba (Indian form of dance commemorating the cycle of life, death, and rebirth). We watched as my sister’s husband took pictures with his Mom and Dad. I realized my sister wouldn’t have that moment. My father wouldn’t be standing next to her in any picture or accompanying my Mom to give away their younger daughter. There wouldn’t be a father-daughter dance or a speech from him.
Instead my sister mentioned my father in her speech and how much she loved and wished he could be part of her day. It is at that point, where my tears mixed with the black mascara and foundation on my face. What she said was true. My mom, my sister and I wished he was there. We all knew why. He spent the last few years worried that he wouldn’t be able to watch my sister settle down, get married and start her life. In the last few weeks of his life, he asked me to always take care of my sister and make sure that when she did get married that I made certain she was happy.
I let the tears plummet down my cheeks. As my sister mentioned my father’s name, I wanted him to see her. To see how happy she was and how when she looked at her husband, the whole room breathed with a sense of joy. As she danced and moved her arms and twirled around the room, I hoped he could feel her happiness.
She’s beginning her life, Dad. And your final wish. It’s granted. Your little girl, my kid sister, is all grown up. And married. And happy.