Then there was the dancing.
Mom and Dad danced, everyone else danced. I chatted with family and took pictures. Caitlin ran around with her new cousin, Charlotte (Jamie's younger sister's 7 year old daughter - what is that? Second cousin once removed or something?) and had a great time.
The food was good, although not as good as mom's cooking would be the next day. The conversations were good - I really enjoy talking about photography and politics with Jamie.
Time passed, as it is wont to do and then it was time to clean up.
At one point I noticed Cindy and Dad dancing and got a little choked up, however, I continued cleaning. A little while later, I saw him dancing with Dawn and that really got me. I started moving towards the door to escape. As I came even with Ian, standing in a crowd around the laptop slide show my cousin Colin had made, he asked me when I was going to get my dance. This was too much for me to handle: my face completely crumpled (you can actually feel that happen, you know) and I went out into the cold and dark night. Ian followed me.
Why? Why was seeing dad dancing with my sisters so painful?
Because he didn't come to my wedding and never danced with me there.
He didn't come. We didn't dance and a part of me has never let that go and still hurts over it, every time I think of it. Seeing him dancing voluntarily with them made me think that he didn't want to dance with me, since there I was, conspicuously alone. He didn't dance with me, wasn't dancing with me because he didn't want to. Because he didn't want me. Because he doesn't love me enough. Those are the thoughts that sent me running and crying.
Ian, however, had a different story. As we walked laps around the church he told me what an idiot I was because it had nothing to do with me. Dad was dancing with my sisters because my sisters had asked him to dance. You won't be surprised to hear that I would never have considered asking him to dance, will you? Ian insisted that of course dad would want to dance with me and that he does actually love me and that I was seeing something that wasn't there. Seeing a slight where it wasn't offered. He told me to stop being an idiot (he was probably nicer than that) and to go back inside. He may have mentioned something about last chances and did I really want to regret not ever having danced with my father?
I learned right then that people can change and that my brother was growing up.
We turned towards the entrance to go back in, although I hadn't yet decided whether I was brave enough to face my father and dance, when Caitlin came running towards us desperately crying. She'd thought I'd left her all alone there and was terribly upset at being abandoned.
I felt like I'd just been punched in the gut.
I cradled her to me, rocking and insisting over and over again that I'd never leave her. No, I'd never leave.
I went back in, crossing the room diagonally with a crying child and was handed off to my father by the rest of my family. They took Caitlin, who started protesting over being separated from me again and left the two of us alone. Alone in a room slowly emptying of people while the music still played. Who knows what music was playing? Who knows what anyone else thought at that moment of its significance?
Dad took me by the hand and we started to slowly dance.
I was trying not to cry anymore and I was trying to think of what I could possibly say to him. In the beginning of the dance, I was moving very stiffly, not dancing so much as walking in mincing steps around and around in a small circle with my father. I was trembling from head to foot with everything I was feeling. I was freezing cold. I was anguished. I wanted to run away. I wanted to stay. I desperately wanted to cry.
I again practiced the Ninja technique of Talking While Crying and told him that I thought he didn't want to dance with me. "No, no, no." he replied. That I thought he didn't want me. "No, no, no." That it really really hurt when he didn't dance with me at my wedding. That I really wanted to dance with him. That I really didn't want him to forget me. That I was really sorry that I'd hurt him. That I really loved him.
He said, as he usually does, "Same here."
I pulled my head back, looked him right in the eye and told him that I needed him to tell me that he loved me. To say the words, that I needed to hear them, directly. He looked me in the eye and he told me.
"I love you." he said. And he kissed me three times.
I continued crying, there in his arms, and we were dancing. Together. Finally.