This is going to sting a bit. Thoughts on giving a daughter away. 

Photo Credit: M'Lissa Howen.
Photo Credit: M’Lissa Howen.

There have been four moments in my life when my knees buckled because I knew that in an instant the world had changed. The first time I kissed M’Lissa, the day she said “I do” and the days Kelsey and Kendall were born. Tomorrow (actually today, it is late) will bring the fifth. Clayton is going to ask me “who gives this woman?” and I am supposed to say “her mother and I do.”

I will say it and I find solace in the fact that Warren Baas will officially become part of our family and we a part of his. But make no mistake, those will be the hardest words I ever have to utter.

For 27 years, Kelsey has filled our familiy’s life with joy, grace and beauty. Her Sunday School teacher once described her with a line from the old Mary Tyler Moore intro song:”She can turn the world on with a smile.” I always felt that statement captured Kelsey’s essence.

Her smile is more than physical beauty. It is the face of an optimist, someone who has a zest for life. When she was five she had no problem boarding a plane by herself without looking back at her parents; when she was seven she was disappointed that she could only stay two weeks at sleep away camp and as she has grown, she has already seen a good part of the world.

Tonight will be no different. She is ready to start life’s great adventure with her soulmate. I have every confidence that their love for each other will carry them through any tough times they face. But more than that, I know that the things about Kelsey that spark that dazzling smile will also spark a lifetime of adventure and romance.

M’Lissa and I can only stand at the end of the jetway and marvel at the fact that the beautiful woman leaving us behind is our daughter. And I just keep singing to myself a line from Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love” album that talks about getting married, albeit from a slightly different perspective. When it comes time tomorrow night “as I watch [the] bride coming down the aisle I pray for the strength to walk like a man.”

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