Give her away?

Devyn, our oldest, got married on Saturday.  Kurt walked Devyn down the aisle to her groom.  When the officiant asked the traditional question, "Who gives this woman to be married?"  This was Kurt's response:

Give her away?

We’ve been asked to drop her off.  Let her be.  Leave her there.  Sometimes for a day, a week, a semester.

Each time we prepared ourselves, and truthfully we didn’t do so well.

Preschool. We just hung in the parking lot until the half-day was over, ducking below the dash when they went out to play.

Summer camp.   I drove 4 hours back up to camp mid-week to see her for 4 minutes.

Semester at Sea.  Of the 700 parents, we were the last to leave the wharf, staring at that speck on the horizon until the sun set.

Give her away?

Devyn changed us.

As some of you know, Alison and I have been together since our early teens. We were the class couple.

“Kurt 'n Al” became one word,  as in “what’s KurtAl doing?"  "Where’s KurtAl”

For over a decade we were  a single identify, a couple.  And then she came home.

No longer a couple, we were now forever a family.

Every decision we made.  Every plan we developed.  Everything we did, now as a family.

Give her away?

Devyn got our trial run.  We were rookies, barely her age when we brought her home.

Yet we never felt more responsible for something, someone.

We were to protect her.  Provide for her.

We were to encourage her, set an example for her.

We were unprepared for the love a parent has for a child.  The unequal joy received in return from a giggle, a smile, the grabbing of your hand or a head sleeping on your lap.

Nothing changed us more.

Give her away?

Every new experience for her, we’d worry

Who’s going to know her like us?
Know the wit behind that quiet.
Know the determination behind that demeanor.
Know the loyalty behind that uneasiness.
Know the smarts behind that smile.

We worried that others might not “get her”.
Like Caleb got her in Elementary School.
Like Mr. Howland got her in High School.
Like Cammie got her in College.

Give her away?
Give up one of life’s treats for dads?

It’s practically a sport not to like boyfriends, none of them would ever dream of asking me to give her away.

And if they did, Maddy would never allow it.  This is her sissy-boo.  The one who when scared, without even asking, reaches her hand out to her, and and Devyn's hand is always there.

Talk about sport.  Maddy can scare away boys with the best of them.

Then Maddy says, “Ben loves her, Dad.  The way you love her.  I never seen her so happy."
So, Maddy, are you ok giving her away?

(Maddy in full wedding mode...through her tears answered, "I do.")

Alright, well, girls like that whole wedding thing...the boys will surely help me

Then Jemby says, “Ben’s cool.  He plays whiffle ball with me.  And he looks like Captain America”
So, Jem, are you ok giving Devyn away?

(Jemberu nodded his head solemnly and said, "Yes.")

Ok - running out of votes.

Truth be told, Ben wasn’t the first to ask for Devyn in marriage.  Mikias proclaimed early after coming home, that he would marry her.  What high school senior would devote so much time, with so much happening in her own life, to building a relationship with a new brother?  She did, and because of that, they are inseparable, 4 years away at college couldn’t change that.

Mikias, the most sensitive, caring member of our family told me, “Ben is very thoughtful of Devyn.  I like the way he talks to her and I like the way he treats her.  Ben takes me to the gym with him.  I like being his little brother”
Miki, you ok giving Devyn away?

(Mikias responded with, "Absolutely!")

She’s technically loved her longer than anyone else.  She sat for a few hours, hands over her belly, smile on her face, after the pregnancy test, until I arrived home from work that summer day.  That day she became what God knew would be her calling, her gift. her legacy, a mom.  Alison would give up her career to be a full time mom.  She’d give up everything for her, for them.  They’ve been blessed with a relationship that seems only true in a fantasy.  Devyn and Alison have, from that summer day, been best friends.  Alison told me that it wasn’t long after Ben came along, that she realized he loved Devyn in a big giant way, he loved her like we did.  She told me that Ben was the center of her heart, as he should be.
Alison, you ok giving her away?

(me: "I am.")

Devyn has long prepared me for this day.  We must have role-played 50 times that day in Disney, at Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

At least 100 times I recall coming home from work to find her dressed as the Little Mermaid.  She greeted me with, "You be Eric, and I’ll be Ariel”.  Poor Mom always had to be Ursula, the Sea Witch.

But who could protect her like me?

And then her heart got broken and it wasn’t me, but Ben, that was there for her.  It was Ben that loved her and let her love him.

And then she got sick, and when I was away, it was Ben that came for her and sacrificed for her.

There is nothing you pray more for than your kids.

For their happiness.
For their protection.
For their confidence.
For their peacefulness.

Devyn doesn’t just resemble me, she reflects me.

Our sensitiveness, our industriousness, our anxiousness.

Regrettably, along with the good, I also passed along the bad.

Life doesn’t give you a do-over...but God gave her a do-better.

Ben is the perfect partner for her
He’s calm.
He’s confident.
He’s comforting.
He’s compassionate.

He has made her happier than any time in her life.

I give thanks to God for finding him for her.

Devyn, you found your Hondo, and you both have my blessing, and our support.  Forever.

We give you away.

("Hondo" was an old western television series that Devyn woke up every Saturday at 6:00 am to watch when she was little.  To her, Hondo, the main character, was the perfect man.)