This column contains some disturbing elements.
Sometimes images are so jarring that they become seared into our psyche.
Always lurking just below the surface of our consciousness.
Imagine a bucket of water with ice cubes.
You can push the cubes to the bottom but they eventually make their way to the top.
I enjoyed officiating at weddings during my time as Mayor of Euclid.
It was great to share in someone else's joyful moments.
Anyway, this one was unusual.
I was asked to come to the bride's home for the ceremony.
Her dad was ill and couldn't get out of the house.
If you can't get to the wedding, bring the wedding to you.
The bride was stunning in her ivory lace down, the groom lovingly gazing upon the woman he planned to grow old with.
Dad sat in his wheelchair.
But he was dying.
The bride's father had mouth cancer.
It had spread.
His mouth was eaten away.
He had no lips left.
My hand is shaking as I write this.
The upper left portion of his cheek had no skin.
Only pulsating tissue.
Veins and bone exposed.
An IV supplied painkillers.
My mind raced trying to organize these fearful visuals.
Emotions began to seize up within me.
I remember thinking that face was reminiscent of Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera unmasked.
It was chilling.
Dad's eyes were glassy, staring straight ahead.
Was there enough life left in him such that he knew that right in front of him his little girl was beginning a new life with her dashing young husband?
I was overcome with compassion.
I was ashamed that I had experienced horror.
There was a lot of love in that room.
All kinds of love.
Deep love for a dad slipping away into eternity almost during the ceremony.
I looked at the bride.
Can you read a face?
I could that day.
The bride's face said I love you Dad.
This new man will take care of me.
And by the way, I'll never forget you.
I'll never stop loving you.
I regained my composure and led the couple through their vows.
I felt the presence of God.
And I'll never forget those images.
All those feelings.
Love your family.
Love them with such fervor that the love survives all things.
Don't be embarrassed to show your love.
Be gaudy in the expression of love.
Let the memory of love be so loudly proclaimed that it becomes a bridge to the time when you are reunited.
Reunited with a terrific dad.
Or with a daughter who made a lovely bride.
A bride who can't wait to tenderly kiss her father again in heaven.
In a place without pain or suffering.
A place where love continues.
But remember this.
For love to continue there, you've got to express it here.
Those images haunt me.
And they remind me to love.