He pulls her close, hand in hand, cheek to cheek. His baby. Grown now, but always and forever his baby. She looks at him like she knows what he’s thinking. “When did she get so big? Where did my little girl go?” He looks at her like he knows what she’s thinking. “I’m still your little girl.”
The music starts and they begin to sway; singing to each other, singing to themselves, smiles on their faces. Today is filled with so much joy, so much promise. This moment is just one. Once the song is over, she’ll return to her seat beside her new husband and he’ll go back beside his wife. They’ll dance together again, but it won’t mean what this one song, this one moment means.
A lyric catches the air, hangs, and dissolves. They hear the words together, absorb their meaning, repeat it in their minds. On this day of celebration, sadness rings in their ears. Up until this moment, he has been who rescued her when she was in need because, through her, he was in need. He was who comforted her when she was afraid because, through her, he was afraid. He was who soothed her when she was heartbroken because, through her, he was heartbroken. He congratulated her on her achievements because, through her, they were his own. And if she needs him to, when she needs him to, he will always be there to catch her.
The notes continue as they pay closer attention to what is being sung. They are words being passed between them, expressing what they can not. They both begin to cry. A painful, aching cry. Not about what’s to come, they’re both excited for the future, but they are mourning their past. When she was his little girl.
He raised her to be strong, independent. He gave her the world, but also taught her how to find it for herself. From him, she learned what she deserves, which is everything.
Now she is someone’s wife. Someone who loves her with his whole heart, purely, with abandon, unendingly. And she loves him the same. She chose well.
Once again he pulls her close, as they continue to sway, dampening each other’s shoulders, squeezing each other’s hands. His baby. Grown now, but always and forever his baby.