Most fathers experience a mix of emotions when walking their daughter to the altar: a mix of joy, pride, but also a little nostalgia to see «their little girl» grow up and be so beautiful and radiant in a white dress, ready to build a new life and a new family alongside the love of their life.
For Paul Daugherty, a sports journalist from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, these feelings were particularly strong. His daughter, Jillian, has Down syndrome. When she married her longtime boyfriend, Ryan Mavriplis, Paul decided to write a letter to his daughter.
«It’s the afternoon of your wedding. In two hours, you will take the walk of your life, a walk made even more memorable by what you have accomplished to get to this day. I don’t know what the chances of a woman born with Down syndrome marrying the love of her life. All I know is that you have far exceeded them,» reads Paul’s touching letter.
The father described meeting Jilian’s husband, Ryan, ten years ago when he arrived at their family home to accompany her to prom. “All my fears that your life was incomplete were gone,” he explained, referring to that moment. Jillian’s relationship with Ryan, Paul emphasized, is «completely natural, unfiltered by agendas or tricks. They live out their love every day.»
When Jillian was born, Paul received a series of pamphlets warning him of all the limitations a child with Down syndrome could face. Fortunately, the newlywed enjoyed a series of extraordinary successes: living on her own, graduating, maintaining a job, and getting married. Paul was only afraid that she wouldn’t be able to find true love, but when he met Ryan, he understood that he could rest easy: «He is a perfect gentleman. Ryan appreciates our daughter and treats her like a princess . What more can you ask of a son-in-law?” he commented.
Indeed, the man ended his letter in a very tender way: “My little girl, dressed all in white, crosses the threshold of another conquered dream. I remain breathless and speechless, completely immersed in the moment. ‘You’re beautiful’ is the best I can say.»