The day had finally arrived. We had talked for months about my daughter’s wedding and prepared for it. There was a sense of anticipation and excitement. The event, for which we had been getting ready for months, was now taking place.

The guests had come. The flowers were in place. The chapel looked imposing yet cozy.
My daughter, in her chosen dress, carefully coiffed, looked pretty. She took my arm, we walked without missing a step. I passed her arm to the groom and the ceremony continued. The pastor gave a short, sensible homily.
Then we moved to the celebratory dinner. I said a toast; the witticisms went down well. The food was good. People seemed pleased. Even the weather was congenial.It was a perfect wedding.I came back home and wondered what was gnawing in my heart.

Then I thought of the lively baby who had crawled to my delight across the living room carpet, the toddler who would run to hug me when I returned from work, the adolescent who rushed to tell me whatever untoward had happened in her school, the long-haired college girl – horror of horrors, with a tint of red in her locks – who had escorted me to a gelato place and then to a ballet, and the young, self-assured young woman who had kissed me goodbye and gone on to work on a project in a distant city.

I realised that – though I had long known of my daughter’s budding romance, though I had met her boyfriend several times and liked him, though I had known about the impending wedding and the new town she would be living in far from my home – I hadn’t quite gotten ready for the truth that she was never again coming back to stay with me.The little girl was gone.