That put a dark spot on Shannon’s and my relationship as we prepared for the wedding but by carefully avoiding talking about it, I eventually tried to live daily life by pretending it hadn’t happened. Sometimes the darkness of the thoughts overwhelmed me but eventually if you pretend enough that reality is okay, you start living like it is. We got busy into planning the wedding. Gil and Ellen were asked to be the best man and the maid of honor and it was incredibly exciting to realize that this was going to happen. Always having been a compulsive planner, I planned almost all of the wedding details, a task that I guess typically falls to the girls. The women of the church made fun of me a bit but helped me out with it quite a lot. The men of the church mocked me endlessly but did not help at all.
We were high school sweethearts and so were going to go back to the town where we met, Weslaco, to get married. I had gotten to be quite chunk by then a full 185 lbs at 5’8 and age 20. Someone showed me a picture of myself where I didn’t recognize me because I was simply too fat. Showing again my obsession with goal setting but really my vanity, I decided to get back to my high school weight (158) before my wedding because all my friends from high school would make fun of me. I don’t remember where I got the idea but I decided that I would eat fresh fruit for breakfast, vegetables for lunch and a handful of nuts for dinner for the 3 months before the wedding. Not only that but I would run every single day for the 3 months before from April 8th to July 8th. I accomplished both goals and at the wedding I actually had lost almost 40 lbs to be at 147 and the thinnest I had ever been at my wedding. (Ironically, Shannon had gotten on birth control a couple of weeks before the wedding and it had made her gain weight so I was at my thinnest and she at her heaviest when the wedding did arrive).
We flew out there several weekends before to meet with photographers and bakers and flower shops. She was still living north of me in Napa Valley but we met at DFW to connect to the Valley. While we were sitting in the airport, we were watching tv during the layover and a commercial came on: “tickets to china 1238 dollars, kungpao chicken in Beijing 14 yuan, (to a visual of a guy on the Great Wall at sunrise) accomplishing #11 off your life to do list, priceless. There’s some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Mastercard.” On a whim, we decided to make a life to do list (these are located below just because I wanted to share them). This was actually put on the back of our wedding program so that all of our guests could see it. They thought we were ambitious and we were but that’s the way I always wanted to approach life.
Eventually the day came: July 8th, 2001 at 10:00 AM. While the memory of it is quite a blur, I still think it was the single happiest hours of my life. There were people there from every stage in my life: high school, family, college, the South Bay Church. We kept the cheesy traditions of not seeing the bride in her dress before she walked in; she had something borrowed, something blue, and something old and something new. We exchanged wedding bands and I cried when we did because this girl was the center of the universe and that day no one else mattered. We didn’t have the traditional bows (those will also be replicated in the next chapter) Dr. Cruz, my high school pastor, mentor and friend married us. Steve read a verse, Leandro and Kisha sang, our old school cook catered the meal, Adrian Pena’s family provided the sound system. It was not too different from being back in high school at one of the schools banquets.
(That day also had its share of controversies because of being Adventists. While we did not say with this ring I thee wed, the fact that we exchanged wedding rings offended some people and they let me know so at the wedding. There was mariachi at the wedding and this led to some spontaneous dancing; this also offended some people and one family, the Glasses, can be accurately be described as having fled the place when that occurred. I crashed into the elders who had told me not to become one of those California Adventists and at some level I was a little disappointed in myself that I had..)
Still, there was no day that I didn’t love life more. I was getting the girl who I loved with all of my heart to commit to spending the rest of her life with me and to do so publicly. I was in a crowd having an intensely private and public moment; it matched up in everyway with the way that I’m wired. I wish I had more adequate words to describe my emotions for that girl but what I really wanted to say was what the sun would say to the sky for giving it a place to come alive.
Shannon, these are my promises to you: that I will love you freely, as the sky loves the bid, as the sunset loves the early evening. That I will love you grandly, with my tender fine emotions, with my loving words and all my actions. That I will love you purely, with my honor, and my knowing, with all the best intentions of my being. Shannon, I love you, and you are my closest friend. Do you accept my promise to share my life and all that I am with you?
Iram, these are my promises to you: that I will you joyfully, with my body, with my laughter, with my foolishness and playing. That I will love you truly, with my finest kindness, my obedience and trust, and my deepest care. That I will love you always, now from this day forward. Iram, I love you, and you are my closest friend. Do you accept my promise to share my life and all that I am with you.
The Dream List
This was the back of our wedding program. I have crossed the things we have done in our 8 years of marriage at this point
On this, Sunday July 8, 2001 Shannon and Iram dream together of their future married life. Since we know that if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time, we wanted to plan our lives, at least envision them, before we were too far along and had realized life had led us instead of us it. This list does not represent either importance or a chronological sequence but like a child daydreaming, they are a stream of consciousness from the center of our joint imagination. They represent love, the freedom of will and expression, and all the things that make life worth living. We trust you will find these interesting, perhaps even amusing but we hope they inspire you to also dream of everything our lives, all of our lives, could be.
Identities to be
Happily Married Lovers Lover of Simple Pleasures Humble Philanthropists
Good Parents Forever Dreamers Co-Authors
Spoiling Grandparents Eternally Young God-fearing Ministers
Passionate Missionaries Inspiring Teachers Healthy Humans
Encouraging Mentors Dependable Friends
Things to do
Write A Book Ice-Skate Sky Dive
Wear Kilts Water-Ski Ride a Roller Coaster
Attend a Broadway Musical Windsurf Grow a Garden
Attend an Opera Ride Horses on the Beach Run a Marathon
Attend a Ballet Learn to Dance Salsa Take a Cruise
Places to Go
Hawaii Japanese Tea Garden Washington DC
Taj Mahal Sistine Chapel Ruins of Athens
Stonehenge Eiffel Tower Mayan Ruins
Great Wall of China Pyramids of Giza Grand Canyon
Great Barrier Reef New York Aztec Ruins
Carnival Yosemite Incan Ruins