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Dancing for Daddy

Rachel Seligman

My father approaches me, placing his hands on my head. He gives me the longest brachah I have ever received. It will also be the last.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

The melody grows stronger, louder. Men march into the room, in time with the lively beat. My mother’s closest friends lean in toward me. “Don’t cry,” they whisper. “Be strong for your mother.” 

I stand on the platform beside my mother, and a great ache fills me. Even as the words of encouragement echo in my ears, the tears well up. I squeeze them back. I plaster a smile on my face, clenching my fists against the soft satin of my gown. Has a tear escaped, falling down my face? 

My thoughts churn: Daddy, do you see? Are you with us, now, as your daughter heads to the chuppah? 

When my sister got engaged, I wanted to display a picture of Daddy in the dining room, at the l’chaim. I wanted him to be there; I wanted to feel his presence. And I wanted everyone else to notice the photograph, and remember him. My mother had discouraged me, “It will make people uncomfortable.” 

Now, here we stand, at the culmination of this emotional engagement. The chassan gently places the veil over my sister’s face. The rav approaches her, and holding his hands high above her head, gives her a brachah.

Photo: Shutterstock

My hands are clenched. No! No! I cry soundlessly, Only Daddy! 

Footsteps and chatter and swirling color. I hear none of the background noise. The crowd fades away, and I’m drawn into my memories. The scenes flash through my mind at lightning speed, and though I try to draw my mind back to the present, I can’t stop the memories. 

It is less than two years ago, and I am the kallah, sitting on a chair cloaked in white. My father approaches me, placing his hands on my head. He gives me the longest brachah I have ever received. It will also be the last. 

Now, I’m twirling on the polished parquet, giddy with happiness. Diggi-diggi-da-dum is blaring from the bandstand. The music stops abruptly. No grand finale? Strange, but okay… I proceed to the head table, where I’m informed that someone has collapsed on the men’s side. A few minutes later, I hear that it was my father.

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