I’m supposed to be marrying my friend, his fiancé and her daughter today but I still get anxious when I enter Costco. The hyperventilating starts once I begin to feel unsafe, almost as If my Spidey senses are alerting me to hidden danger. The realization that everybody is a possible point of contagion takes hold of me and getting out of what begins to feel like a coronavirus collection center becomes the only thing I can think of. Now, everyone being required to wear masks to enter the store helps me make it through the check-out stand but I’m still on guard and mentally pushing people away from me when they get too close or are half-ass wearing their mask.
As far as I know, I don’t have what’s usually listed as the underlying conditions that could lead to a serious and possibly fatal outcome if I were to be infected. Knowing this does not embolden me. There are too many anecdotal cases where seemingly healthy people have suffered terribly and even died after believing that they would be spared from the ravages of COvid-19. Oh, the things we still don’t know bout the ‘Rona.
Back to the wedding. I am honored to have been asked to officiate their union today but my life has screeched to a halt in many ways during this upside down time we are living in. I am in Fresno, the wedding is in Houston. I could drive to LA and fly non-stop to Houston or fly from Fresno on two flights with a layover in between. Best practice suggests I fly to Houston and quarantine for 14 days before the wedding and another 14 day quarantine isolated from family when I return to Fresno. This would be inconvenient but I'd find a way if I could only imagine that it is safe climbing into a metal box with a bunch of strangers coming from who knows where, breathing each others air with no escape route and if I assume no mask protests are planned mid flight by pandemic patriots demanding their constitutional rights be upheld.
Greg & Brooke, the husband and wife to be, have made it clear that they understand if loved ones choose not to attend their wedding. Each step along the way, they’ve assured me of this. Before the originally scheduled June 27th wedding in the Cayman Islands was postponed because of the global virus spread, to the July 25th date in Fort Lauderdale which was postponed because traveling to Florida was risky for immediate family and friends to today, August 8th in Houston where most of Greg & Brooke’s immediate family resides, they've been clearly aware of the trepidation that loved ones might experience.
The lockdown cancelled the first wedding date and deciding not to attend the 2nd scheduled wedding was fairly cut and dried for me because as the virus was taking over the country, I figured that the wedding would be postponed again. Once this 3rd date and location were picked I felt I had to justify to them not gathering for the occasion. Not that I didn’t want to do my part or that Greg & Brooke were pressuring me, it’s that after so many adjustments they had to make already and their desire to just make it easy for friends and family to celebrate with them, It just felt selfish not to hop on a plane and be there for them.
Greg and I have been there for each other to one degree or another since 2002 when he joined our rag-tag team of Sports Super Heroes dunking around the country and the world. I was there when he did his first front flip dunk, performed at his first NBA game, performed at his first TX A&M game, delivered his first presentation, first rappelled from the rafters of an arena, first sat foot on China soil, first home, first major break-up, first major injury, family passing, teammate passing, dogs dying, kids smiling, audiences giving standing ovations, clients praising, signing autographs, guiding teammates, providing leadership, competing on TV contests, winning TV contest, winning World Championship and carving out a place for himself as a sought after mascot performer, speaker, emcee, actor, innovator and business partner.
We've created so many memories over the years but almost everything about this important part of his life with Brooke feels detached.
I wasn’t there when they met at the school she teaches at where our team performed. I wasn’t there to notice the sparkle in his eye when they first saw each other before the performance. I wasn’t there when he saw her after the performance as he was driving away and recognized that he could not leave without at least finding out if she too felt what he felt. I wasn’t there to witness the tingling in his gut as he came to the realization that what he’d been missing was possibly standing right in front of him and I wasn’t there to witness as he leapt at the chance to prove his gut right. Not being in Houston much, I wasn’t there to hang out with them or see Greg grow to love Blakely, Brooke’s daughter, or see them grow as a family together and create moments with them.
When Greg and Brooke asked me earlier this year if I would marry them, I knew that it would lead to us working closely to create a memorable experience for them and in the process I'd get to know Brooke and Blakely better. In March it still seemed possible.
Now I won’t be there to participate in today’s culmination of their love ritual that I wasn’t there to witness when it began in 2018. I won’t be there to experience the joy exuding deep from Greg’s Mom’s heart and revealing itself in her eyes, her smile and her spirit. I won’t be there to help usher them into completeness as the officiant of their wedding and this makes me sad.
Greg’s older brother Sean is there for them. He, more than I, has enjoyed a front row seat to Greg’s adventures with lifelong memories to show for it. He recently took an ordination class, got ordained and traveled from Atlanta. Today, he will guide them into marriage. That makes me glad.
Greg & Brooke’s hearts have been gravitating toward each other since probably the beginning of time. As soul mates, this wedding is more of a formality for them but Greg’s Mom, she has been LONGING for this moment and what greater joy will she experience than to have her oldest son conduct her youngest son’s ascent into lovely matrimony.
To Greg, Brooke and Blakely may your love continue to nourish your souls into eternity!