San Quentin State Prison
Member of The Last Mile
June 28th, 2013, what a day! It was a day filled with love, tears, family members and friends. At the center of it all was me graduating from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. It was and still is a huge deal for me; especially considering I grew up not believing in God. As elated as I was to be graduating, it took second place to hearing a three-letter word spoken by my girlfriend (Char). That word was …”YES!” With her hands in mine and tears in my eyes, I asked her to marry me. Yep, you read it right, I proposed during my graduation ceremony, right in the middle of my commencement speech. The shocked look on Char’s face was priceless. I’d never seen her eyes grow so big–or look more beautiful. She had no idea that it was coming. And I had no idea how emotional the whole thing would be, not only for us, but for everyone in the room. The whole event was pretty amazing and filled with memorable moments.
One of those precious moments was seeing my mom, sitting in the second row overcome with joy. It was that joy that radiated from her that brought tears to my eyes. Up until this day she had never attended anything that celebrated me or my achievements. For the first time in my life I saw that my mom was really proud of me. I’m still trying to find the words that truly capture what it is I felt at that moment. My mom being there and sharing in that historic moment meant the world to me. It’s a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Also, having my mentor, friend, and father figure Claude in the audience was terrific. For nearly two decades, he has been and continues to be a constant source of strength, support, and encouragement. Had it not been for his help, I don’t think I would have survived this long in prison. Seeing tears flow from this tough southern Alabama boy spoke volumes.
I digress…back to the wedding proposal. Just minutes before I took the lectern a few people had noticed and made comments about how much I was sweating; which should have been a sign that something was up. I’m usually calm, cool, and collected in those types of settings. But on this occasion I was sweating like a mirror in a bathroom during a hot shower. I was a nervous, but I had everything under control. I wasn’t afraid of the moment or of what I was getting ready to do. After all, I didn’t just wake up that morning and say, “hey, I think it’s a good day to ask Char to marry me.” To the contrary, an incredible amount of thought and prayer went into me deciding to ask her to become my wife. I sought council from people who had been married for years and folks who had suffered and endured multiple divorces. I wanted to know as much as I could about what I was getting ready to get myself into. After I pondered over all the information and feedback, I was 100% sure of two things; one: I truly was in love with this woman! And two: I wanted to marry her! The love that I have for and share with her is an amazing love. It’s a love that I have NEVER known before. It’s a love that I didn’t know was possible. It’s a love that lots of people search for but never find; that’s because it’s the kind of love that finds you. It’s the kind of love that once you have it you never want to live without. No doubt about it, I was going to ask this woman to marry me.
Once my mind was made up, a hint of fear crept in. What if she says, “I need to think about it?” What if she doesn’t say a word, and turn around and walk away, leaving me down on bending knee. Or worse, what if she flat out says, “NO!” Was I ready for that? More importantly, could I survive that? I wasn’t sure how hearing “No” would affect me or our relationship? I had no plan B’. At the end of the day none of the “what ifs” and questions mattered because what I was doing and getting ready to do felt SO right. And because asking her to marry me was worth the risk.
Yeah, she’s so worth it.
This program with Quora is part of The Last Mile San Quentin. Twitter: @TLM