It is just a concrete motorway bridge spanning the M25. It is not magnificent, like the QEll that crosses the Thames. Nor is it the common low flat, nearly all the same, type bridge that is useless for navigation. My bridge, for that is what I used to call it, stands out from the rest. Maybe because it is so high up sitting between two sides of a deep man made valley with the eight lane motorway flowing rapidly below.
There is a simple elegance about this bridge. It is only one giant arch with a straight line across the top joining the two sides. The most basic of shapes. A curve and a line.
It is only when travelling at speed and you look up at the bridge and it seems like you’re standing still that you realize how big it is.
I used to call it my bridge because to me personally it joins together two parts of me. Like other bridges that join countries and counties together. They often mark boundaries. The same for me. The known from the unknown. When travelling home from very long journeys, days or weeks. My bridge marks the beginning of the known. The first undoubted sign that home is only about 40 minutes away. The sign is concrete and reads, welcome back, and not long now.
On the outward journey, just before the bridge, is a massive road sign it shows the road forking off in different directions. When you pass under the bridge into the unknown your path can take different routes. You will know doubt have a known destination but its route, its new undiscovered pleasures or sadness something to savour and look forward to.
It is towards the bridge, away from home that we are travelling now.
I am driving my wife by my side. In the rear view mirror I can see the groom and my beautiful daughter still in her wedding gown. The dress is silky and long and exquisitely made. She looks perfect in it. Like all the dressing up while as a child as a princess or a ballerina was merely a rehearsal for this, her wedding day. Her smile radiates her happiness just like her mothers did on our special day.
There is a sparkle in her eyes like the time at Christmas when it snowed. Like the first time she saw my bridge at the magical age of 5. The three of us were heading out on a day trip and playing spot. I new the bridge was coming up and said “see if you can spot a bridge.” When it came into view her face lit up.
“Daddy it’s a rainbow” she said and it was. Later that day we came upon a wishing well. The eyes sparkled again
“Can we make a wish?” And she throws down her penny. “You must not tell anybody or it will not come true” she said excitedly. I looked at the delighted little face. Made so happy by something so small. I did not believe, but I played the game anyway. That day was long and hot and enjoyed by all. On the way home there was a shower. I was looking forward to getting home. The traffic was getting heavy because of the rain. Then the sun came from behind a cloud. It stopped raining just as the bridge came into sight. “Look daddy there’s a rainbow, that’s what I wished for.” I did not know if she meant a real rainbow or the bridge. I could not see a rainbow. I was driving, the road wet, not the conditions to sky daze.
Real or make believe her wish had been granted. The joy showed. As we passed under Rainbow Bridge for that is what I call it now. I hoped that my wish would come true too. My wish was that she would always be as happy as she had been on that day. That she would find things in this world to bring the simple pleasures like a child sees.
Nearly 20 years later I think I can say so, for she has been happy. She was happy today, her wedding day. There is no prouder moment in a father’s life then to give his little girl away. As we travel towards Rainbow Bridge I know that someone else is going to make her glad. There is no longer a direct method to make her smile if she is sad. I have travelled the road of love and there is no greater thing. As we take them to the airport for their honeymoon. I feel sad it is only a few weeks but really it’s not. Passing the forked road sign I know we are taking different directions. I put on my sunglasses although it is not bright. As we go under Rainbow Bridge I thank the power that made her happy for so long. I also hope by going under the bridge that the magic is reminded of my wish and for it to go with her and keep her happy. We pass under Rainbow Bridge from the known into the unknown and with it different directions of undiscovered pleasures and sadness. Something to savour and look forward too.
Tim Vowles is a bus driver from Essex, England . Timvowles@live.com