Almost every little girl dreams about it at one time or another. Dreams of the white dress, the garden she walks down, and the man who waits for her. The prince at the end of the story who will take her away from this sorrow that swims in her, the emptiness that somehow fills her. The man that will become her husband.
They reach the Prince and the priest smiles at her as she turns to her father, tears in his eyes. “And who gives this woman away?” the Priest would ask, and with your hands tightly in his, he leans forward and presses a kiss to your cheek. Chest out, he looks at the groom, and then the Priest. “I do.”
What a sad and happy day it is for him. From this day on, he knows that she will be taken care of, his baby girl will live out her happily ever after. But she’s no longer his little girl anymore, she now belongs to someone else.
I imagined this day, more so now as an adult then I did as a child. I image the love of my life asking me to marry him in a way that no matter how extravagant or ordinary, I will remember for the rest of my life. I think of the way the butterflies that flap around in my stomach then fly all the way up and surround my heart, stealing the breath out of my as I watch him slip such an important ring around my finger.
And then, I imagine the wedding. I imagine standing behind the thick wooden doors of a church, or around a beautifully decorated shrubbery waiting for the music, the music that tells me it is time, time to go up there and claim my happily every after. And as the music plays, and I clutch my simple bouquet between my nervous fingers I look next to me and see no one.
There’s no man who takes hold of my arm, no father who squeezes my arm in hopes of settling my nerves. I walk down the aisle alone, trying to hide my sadness on the day that is meant to be the happiest day of my life.
“Who gives this woman away?” I look at my side of the church, or at the simple white foldout chairs that line the dark green grass and see no one. There is no one there to give me away.
Is this not the fears of so many women raised by single mothers? A fear that creeps into a woman that has no father, no grandfather even to smile at her, take hold of her hands in those moments with emotions so clear on his face.
Some could say that it’s no big deal, that these women should shuck these fears and just rejoice at the fact that her prince stands there waiting for her, that her happily ever after is within reach. But let me as you this, don’t you think there would’ve been so much more joy in her life, if Cinderella’s father had been there throughout it?
Pushing up my veil, I smile at my fiance and nod to the priest.
“Who gives this woman away?”