Like many women, Meredith Parnell Kavanaugh’s first love was her father.
In 2003, Meredith’s dad, Cornelius “Lynn” Parnell, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He battled the disease for over a decade, but in 2015, it became clear that he didn’t have much longer to live. Meredith found herself running through all of the things that her dad wouldn’t be able to witness in her life, and one thing stood out more than most: her wedding day.
Although she wasn’t dating anyone at the time, Meredith had faith that one day she’d find “the one” and plan that big wedding she’d always dreamed of. Sadly, she knew there was no way Lynn would be there to walk her down the aisle and dance with her, surrounded by their loved ones. So, she decided to do something incredible while her dad was still alive.
When a girl gets married, two of the biggest things are having her father walk her down the aisle and give her away, and the father daughter dance. Without a father present, those traditions would be quite different for me. I remember that being a selfish thought when the cancer kept coming back… “he has to walk me down the aisle…he has to dance with me at my wedding…I haven’t even met the right guy yet, this can’t be happening!” But yall, our God is so incredibly GOOD! Not only did I still have my mother to walk me down the aisle, but He had an incredible plan for the dance…
Meredith decided to make a video of her father-daughter dance with Lynn while they still could, so she borrowed a wedding dress and arranged to create the precious memory right then and there. As soft music played in the background, father and daughter slowly turned in circles in their living room, lost in a moment of their own creation.
“When my Dad and I were dancing, he told me how proud he was of me and how beautiful [I] looked — it became very much what it’d be like at my real wedding,” Meredith said. “That moment is priceless. He danced as long as he could before the strength ran out. What a gift.”
Just two days later, Lynn passed away.
Three years later, Meredith finally found herself ready to tie the knot with the love of her life, Bryan Kavanaugh. Although her father couldn’t be there in body, she made sure he was there in spirit by incorporating their videotaped dance into the ceremony in a very special way.
During the part of the reception when the father-daughter dance traditionally takes place, Meredith arranged to have the video of herself dancing with Lynn playing in the reception hall. To make the moment even more incredible, she and her mother each danced with one of her brothers, Jared and Jason, as the same song played.
Meredith, who is a photographer, says that this life event is precisely why preserving family memories is her life’s work.
THIS is why preserving memories is so incredibly important to me, because when I want to remember the way he looked, the way he smiled, and the way he talked….photographs and videos help to keep those priceless memories alive. Because of the photos, because of the videos, my nephews, and my unborn children will know their Papa, and when I am old and my mind is senile, even if the technology back-ups fail, I have heirloom albums with his photos in them that will last for over 100 years. I’m covered.
Meredith’s father-daughter dance is a beautiful moment to keep her dad’s memory alive, and we’re sure he’s smiling down at her and her new husband as they begin their life together.
Watch the touching video below, and please share this beautiful moment with your loved ones.
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