A jumble of curls, ivory lace and flying ribbons darts down the aisle, brown leather boots trotting silently on the gleaming floor. A small chubby hand grasping the condensed stems of dainty Baby’s Breath. Another smaller chubby hand also grasps the stems of a tiny bouquet but this little girl is not flying by in a whirlwind, she is not a blur of lace and ribbon. No, this one stands stock still at the back of the aisle, right where she was plopped down by her watchful aunt. She does not move, does not make a sound, all I can see from my seat at the front is her little face, confused and blank, unsure of where to go or what to do as her little chin tilts upward, scanning the rows and rows of faces for familiarity. She did not follow her eager older sister down the aisle, she stood and waited, waited quietly, trustingly, until Grandma came to scoop her up and carry her into the pew where her sister had already arrived.
Two little girls, two sisters, heads twisted in curls, one blond and one brunette, one tall and slim, one shorter and chunkier but both with clear blue eyes like their Daddy’s. They could not look any more alike in their facial expression and yet be any more different. The older one is always a blur, always flitting hither and thither like a fairy, with energy and spunk to last a lifetime. Such determination and adventure is written on her serious little face and such an intense focus on gaining attention and finding approval while exploring the entire world all at once.
The younger other is a plop of sunshine, always smiling and catching attention for the sake of affection, willing to be still as long as a favorite big person is holding her hand, or laughing with her or cuddling her. She is always intent on following her sister but not too intent as to wander far from Mom or to explore an unfamiliar place. She loves to bring her treasures to show you and give you toys to hold, because that is, of course, the most important task Momma or Daddy has to do today. One sister yearns for affection, the other sister desires approval, two very different and yet rather similar needs. The need to be loved, to be recognized, to be appreciated.
Just like their unique personalities, these two took that ramble down the aisle very differently. One came down the aisle far faster than convention would have it and one so slowly that she would not have made it at all without assistance. Momma’s pre-wedding coaching was really all for naught, the reminder to help Stella down the aisle by holding hands and walking together just did not stick in that spirited three-year-old brain, yet she remembered to carry her flowers with her and walk (ahem) run to “Grandmary,” as they fondly call my mother.
And then just like that, after months of fitting dresses and walking them through a visual run down, both flower girls were safely in the pew and the bride was coming after them to the tune of her Daddy’s bagpipes. And somehow, the only face I saw in that timeless waltz down the aisle was my brother’s face at the altar, his eyes welling up and the emotion of the moment twisting the corners of his mouth.
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The moment of the father giving away his oldest daughter to my little brother was lost on me in a way because seeing that exchange of emotions brought a lump to my own throat. My mind flashed back to my own wedding day and that same moment where time stands still. The man who has loved his eldest daughter since the day she was born, hands her over to the man who will love her until the day he dies.
When my mind snapped back into focusing on the present moment, the handshakes and hugs had been exchanged, and the father’s hands were replaced by the groom’s hands, lacing the delicate womanly fingers of the new bride. There they were on the altar with the priest. My baby brother, now grown into a man, holding the hand of my almost sister- in-law in her glamorous lace train.
Just. Like. That.
As hard as it is to even fathom at this point with a two-year-old and a three-year-old, someday my husband is going to be walking one of those flower girls down the aisle for the timeless last walk that a father has with his daughter. Someday, our little twirling energetic girls will be swept off their feet and get their chance to be a princess for a day and pledge their hearts to other men. Today I had the privilege to walk down the aisle with that man I pledged my heart to four years ago and to wait at the other end for the fruit of our love to make their flower girl entrances.
The boots I wore today are the boots I wore while working the horse trails where I met the man of my dreams. Those same boots, now a little worn but still high heeled and buckled, paraded me down the aisle, representing the love that has grown from the saddle ten years ago. A pair of high-heeled cowgirl boots stepping in time with a pair of larger cowboy boots, reflecting our marriage in the footprints we leave.
Our boot prints now are being traced by another couple as they follow into the adventure of marriage and so the pattern continues. And someday soon the steps of the little flower girls will be echoed by the steps of another set of toddling feet. That’s the way the pattern goes after all: two cowgirl boots keeping time with two cowboy boots, traced by tiny footsteps nine months later. And just like that, the rhythm of the family continues, one baby bootie print at a time.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely[…]think about such things.” Philippians 4:8