I am writing this a bit early, because I know that when it is due, my life will be crazy. My daughter is getting married one week from today. She is my baby girl, the youngest of four daughters and the last one to get married. Now I know this is the happiest day of her life, but for a dad? Not so much.

I love my daughter, don’t get me wrong. All of my girls are “daddy’s girls.” And perhaps that’s the problem. There is something about this day that makes a lot of dads sad. I remember the movie Father of the Bride in the scene the night before his daughter’s wedding when George Banks is lying in bed not able to sleep. “This is it”, he thinks to himself. “This is the day I have dreaded for the past nine months … scratch that…19 years.” I can relate.

There is something about the gift of a baby and the bond between parent and child. And as strange as it sounds there is something about walking a daughter down the aisle that feels a little like a death and not so much like a celebration. (It may well be the same with a son, but my son is still single, so check back on that one!) This is my girl. Ever since the day she was born and she wrapped her little hand around my finger I knew it was my job to protect her. I would do whatever it took to keep her safe. To make sure she was loved and secure. Every parent knows what I mean when I say there is virtually nothing I wouldn’t do for this child.

And as we walk down that impossibly long aisle together, both trying to feign smiles, it feels more like it’s all about to change. With every step, I can feel my little girl slip away….

I know it’s stupid. She’s not even my little girl … she is a grown woman. A strong, independent, capable woman marrying a great man who I know loves her just like I had always hoped. But still, there is something in this dad that gets teary-eyed about his little girl growing up and starting this new wonderful chapter in her life.

And so, I am going to savor the importance of this next week. And I’m not going to lie, there will be some quiet tears on this day, because this is one of those moments I will remember forever. And I hope that with every step down the aisle, every tear as we dance together, I am reminded what a blessing this life can be, and how amazing this beautiful woman, my daughter, has become. But there is still a part of me that hopes that with every tear we share, she is reminded that no matter how capable and independent she becomes, no matter where life takes her … in my eyes she will always be “daddy’s girl.”

Dr. Robert Apgar-Taylor is pastor of Grace United Church of Christ, Frederick¡ and Veritas United Church of Christ, Hagerstown.