Monday, May 31, 2010

A wedding

I went to a wedding yesterday. It felt like a milestone for me, but of course, I was only an innocent bystander. Jasmine, the bride. Now it was a milestone for her.

I was weepy all day. In fact, I was a wreck. I cried on and off the whole two hour drive down to Walnut Creek. I cried as I sat waiting for the festivities to begin. I cried every time I hugged that girl. So much emotion welled up in me. I was holding some powerful personal history in my heart that day.

On the way down Mark made sure I was wearing waterproof mascara. He's so thoughtful, for a boy! He even carried the kleenex for me.

Jasmine, as you may recall from a previous post, was a student in my class 23 years ago. I was her 4th and 5th grade teacher and she still calls me that when she's introducing me to her friends.
Towards the end of the wedding we were hugging goodbye and she grabbed the photographer to have him take a picture of us together. "This is my 4th grade teacher," she told him, as if that would express the significance of our connection.

He did seem to get it, though. "Wow," he said, eyebrows raised. I suppose most people's 4th grade teachers don't attend their weddings.

Jasmine's mom, Gina, and I had a bit of a love fest. Lots of hugs, lots of memories and tears, too. Gina was Jasmine's rock and I told her that. (Like teachers, moms often don't get the credit they deserve, I think.) Gina stood out from a lot of the moms I encountered in Vallejo. She was there in the background, working hard, making sure her kids knew that she thought their education was important. Jasmine's dad was not a part of the picture then or now, but her brothers and mom were. At the wedding her younger brother Julian walked her halfway down the aisle, and her older brother Jimmy took her the rest of the way, to the altar and then "gave her away."

Gina told me what I've meant to Jazz. More than a teacher, more than a friend. I honestly can't put into words what our relationship has meant to me. Gina didn't seem to mind calling it "like a daughter" and she's right. "You've watched her grow up," she said. And that's true. I remember Jasmine when she first came into my classroom. A sweet and somewhat spacey kid. I remember her performance as a possessed girl in our simulation of the Salem Witch Trials (!). I remember reading with her, singing with her, watching her play dodgeball at P.E. I introduced her to the beach and bagels and horses. And I remember visiting with her as a high school student, talking about the future, hoping to instill in her a sense of importance about her future and what she could make of herself.

I give Jasmine the credit for the connection she and Chanel and I still have. Without Jasmine as the glue, and sometimes the detective (there were years when I just couldn't find Chanel and Jasmine would ask around their extended group of old friends until she found her or at least found out that she was okay), I don't know if I would have had the joy of being a part of her celebration yesterday or Chanel's baby's birth in April. Thankfully, she has always been very good at keeping in touch.

When I think back on the Jasmine I knew in 4th grade, she looks a lot like the girl above. Gorgeous smile, full of fun, sweetness and a sense of humor. And what a sense of style! (This was one gorgeous wedding!) Jasmine is goodness. Her heart is full of love. I love that about this photo, I just want to hug that girl!

Jazz met Clinton, her handsome husband, when they were in grade school, but since he's a few years older than she I didn't have the pleasure of meeting him until they began dating about 10 years ago. She'd had a crush on him forever, but it wasn't until after he came home from college, Grambling State University in Louisiana, they finally started dating.

Things were going great and then one day in a horrible downpour, Clinton was in a car wreck on the highway. He was paralyzed from the waist down and was told he'd never walk again. Seriously, you read about things like this. But here they were, this young couple, and a tragedy of epic proportions hits.

Jasmine was his rock. I watched as she hung in there with him through the hospital stay and his recovery. I watched their commitment grow, too. Having gone through recoveries in my own family, I know that this road is not smooth. Jazz and I had many conversations about commitment, marriage, feelings, communication, and faith during those years. This was no fairy tale, this was gritty real life. But they persevered.

Today Clinton's walking. They have a beautiful little girl, Amora. And they're married.

Mark and I were honored to be included in the celebration of their past and their future. It was a beautiful day.

I'll leave you with a few images of the event.


G said...

What a story! Brought tears to my eyes.

Gina Love-Mason said...

OMG! Well here I go again tears galore! What a beautiful story, and one that I am so familar with because I was there.

Thank you Susie, you are truly a God sent! I Love you as a sister, a second mother to my daughter, and a friend that I will always have a place in my heart for! I've often heard that it takes a village to raise a family. Thank you for living in our hut!

You have truly been an inspiration to Jasmine, she has always talked about you, loved you, and enjoyed being a part of your family, and what a wonderful family you have!

Mark is the greatest! I really enjoyed meeting him, and I love his since of humor. (Great Catch!)

Thank you for always being a part
of Jasmine's life and a part of
our family!

Thank you for just being you!

Wishing you the best yesterday, today, and forever!

Love to you always,


Jasmine Dixon said...

Wow! What a beautiful story! I surely had tears rolling down my face as I read this.

SUSIE- I am so grateful that you were there to share in one of the most important days in my life. As I was getting ready the day of my wedding, I remember seeing you and Mark walk across the parking lot. I was so excited to see you my first thought was to go and say hi! Then I remembered why you were both there! I was getting married, I couldn't go out there! It had been a while since we last saw each other. I was so happy to see you I forgot for a split second what was going on.

I’m so blessed to have known you all these years. Like my mother said, you are like a second mother to me. You have always been there for me and have always been an inspiration to me.

I remember like it was yesterday being in your classroom. You were and still are the BEST teacher I've EVER had. You had such an impression on me as a child that I still talk about you to this day. I would be more excited than worried if I knew my daughter would go through her school years with a teacher like you. I wish I could clone you!!!

You made education fun because you did it your way-the right way. You taught us not only about the "regular school lessons" but you also taught us about life, respecting others, the earth/nature, our elders, how to treat others, music, the list goes on and on.

You exposed many of us to things that we would have never known about had it not been for you. I remember all the songs that we use to sing as you played your guitar. Do you know that many of the songs that you taught us, I sing to my little girl at night before she goes to bed? It works like a charm. I sing "The Water is Wide" and "You've Got a Friend". I could go on forever about how much of a wonderful teacher you are, but I might not be able to leave that long of a comment.

As mother/friend/mentor - you are truly AMAZING women! I know that I can ALWAYS count on you whenever and for whatever. You have never judged me or criticized me. You’ve always pushed me and encouraged me to reach for the stars as any mother would do.

Your boys are truly blessed to have a wonderful mother as well as a phenomenal teacher in their lives.

I am thankful to say that I have two beautiful, smart, remarkable women in my life. My birth mother and my given mother – for I feeling that you were given to me the day I walked into your fourth grade classroom.

We have many more milestones come!

Love always,