wedding catastrophe’s, empty chairs and the beauty of life

  Dear Samantha, 

I apologise in advance for this long-winded sentimental post. Since you and Michael do not have phones with you on your honeymoon, I envisage you will read this in a resort hotel lobby PC or one of those dodgy looking internet shops. 
Yesterday you fulfilled your dreams and committed yourselves to be with your beloved Michael for the rest of your life. Your lovely bridesmaids Sharon, Akuany and Andrea were both certain that I would bawl like a baby as I walked you down that blood red coloured church carpet with you by my side. I feigned macho toughness towards these ‘sooky la la’ ideas. But I can now admit that I withheld a secret hidden thought that they might be right. The truth was subconsciously stabbing at my gizzards. They brought this up again when we did a toilet stop at the house of a kind lady called Jackie after I knocked on the door of her Thames Street Balmain home to see if she would agree to have a bride and her bridesmaids use her toilet 10 minutes before we were due at the church. We didn’t look like axe murderers so she consented. I so love kind and accommodating people like Jackie from Balmain. Axe murderers probably do too. 
In the end I didn’t cry, unfortunately that was because I was in panic mode after your long veil got caught on the entrance corner of the hand chiseled sandstone blocks of that beautiful Balmain church built in 1868. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins as I tried to re-insert those silver combs into your beautifully coiffured blond locks. After all of the organisation and effort I was desperate to not have your perfect day ruined!
As the beautiful instrumental version of Christine Perri’s song ‘A Thousand Years’ played, everyone’s eyes were upon us and there was no-one there to help. I was fiddling around with your headpiece like a total dork and the bridal party were at the front probably now wondering what the delay and kerfuffle was all about.
I can pull apart, re-assemble V8 engines and trouble shoot electrical circuitry but hair combs are way beyond my area of expertise. 
Then your lovely (now) sister-in-law Amanda came to the rescue, she quickly assessed the situation and wisely realised the veil was now a lost cause. She quickly removed it and put it aside. Then my male brain clunked some gears and decided that the veil was a much needed necessity. After all we paid good money for that veil! I reasoned that I could quickly place it back over your beautiful blond noggin and all would be good. So I did that and we proceeded forward closer to the awaiting wedding party and an eager young man called Mr Blok. 
Unfortunately I did not realise there was a plastic hair comb dangling somewhere around the front of your face until we were about half way down the aisle. At this point my hear sank a little. 

Now for many brides this would have been a total disaster. But I should have known that regardless of what happened, that was never going to be the case with you. This is because of your wonderful, beautiful playful nature and countenance. You just smiled and laughed through it all. This is the Sam that mum and I have always loved and known, and that Michael and his marvellous family and friends have only just begun to discover.

Maybe you were panicking on the inside, I don’t know, certainly no one would have known it. I had my iPhone in my suit pocket recording it all, so I have re-examined the way you casually laughed through it. You did everyone proud as you smiled so beautifully and walked towards your awaiting beau. I handed you over and breathed a sigh of relief. Amongst all of the drama I forgot to speak my fatherly exhortation into Michael’s ear. No matter. Then your wise and attentive mother read the intention of your eyes and stepped forward to remove the now ill fitting, comb dangling veil. 
So contrary to any bets that may have been laid by your beautiful bridesmaids, I did not cry at your wedding ceremony. I did not cry at the reception either. However I do admit to getting emotional during my speech. I believe a true test of manhood is persevering with the ‘father of the bride’ speech in spite of chronic achey jaw and a quivering voice. I had good success in that regard. But if tears flow then let them come, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke taught us that valuable lesson.   
If I have any regrets about my speech it is only that in the emotion I forgot to mention how fond I am of Michael and that Mum and I are both so very glad that you have found someone so individually amazing, talented, wise and who we know will cherish, love and compliment you in every way. You have already become a better person because of him and we know this will continue. To have Michael Blok as our son-in-law is a great honour and privilege. We could ask no more. 
The wedding ceremony was perfect. Michaels Dad smiled (graciously pointing out his own error in a generous attempt to make you feel better), he laughed and took you both through the formalities with perfection. Mum and I were very touched by the spirit of your beautiful vows to each other. 
The reception was amazing. It was a wonderful celebration. The speeches were sublime, ridiculous, poignant and funny. There were lots of laughs. Everything moved along smoothly. 
Today Mum and I talked about how we loved seeing everyone enjoying themselves so much. For Bonnie and Jack it was their first experience of dancing and letting themselves go. They loved it! Seeing Josh grooving and enjoying was the icing on the cake. Mani had fun too. On his iPad and clinking toast glasses with Jack and Tracey Willis. Jared was the life of the party and impressed us with his cool dance moves.  
Today things hit home a little hard. I started to feel some strong emotion. You will now know that at 4am this morning whilst you were probably nestled comfortably in the arms of your beloved Michael, Nana Leroy’s brother died of a massive heart attack. Mum and I were consoling her early Sunday morning. Then mum and I chatted about how life is sometimes held by a thin thread. In these times we become more aware of our mortality. This is why we endeavour to express our love and fondness in the daily thresholds of hello and goodbye and various interactions everyday. Life is a very great gift we should all be thankful for and never take for granted.  
Then we both visited Nan and Pop Shaw. It was disappointing that a turn of ill health forbade them from attending your reception yesterday. They and many of us were cut up about that. My lovely, compassionate sister (Auntie) Linda didn’t attend either as she stayed with my Mum and Dad kindly looking after their wellbeing. 
I was sobbing a little as mum and I drove out to see them today. Your mum held my hand and gave me comfort, afterwords she also comforted Nana whilst Uncle Mick and I were entertained by Pop Shaw’s eccentricity. Driving there I felt sad but love was welling up inside in appreciation for all of the beautiful people I know and adore. A little earlier I had listened to Don McLeans sublime song ‘Empty Chairs’. This beautiful haunting melody also reminiscent of ’empty chairs at empty tables’ from Victor Hugo’s brilliant Les Misérables. I’m sure you know the latter. Both are poignant and melancholy songs of loss of friendship, love and relationship. In true style I took a photo of the empty chair in your empty bedroom and posted it on IG and FB along with the lyrical Don McLean quote.
Forgive me if I have painted a picture of you as some kind of happy clappy smiling blond simpleton, that is far from the truth. Sanguine people like you can sometimes give an erroneously deceptive impression. You and Michael are both wise beyond your years. You are brave, creative, entrepreneurial, sweet wise, compassionate, smart and a lot of fun. You will do good in this world.  
Over the years you will both experience much joy, you will love intensely, learn, give, suffer (occasionally), forgive, and you will embrace all things good. 
This is the beauty and majestic nature of life and love. 


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