EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Tucson High School and University of Arizona basketball standout Ernie McCray is a legendary figure to Tucsonans and Wildcat fans. McCray, who holds the Wildcats’ scoring record with 46 points on Feb. 6, 1960, against Cal State-Los Angeles, is the first African-American basketball player to graduate from Arizona. McCray, who now resides in San Diego, earned degrees in physical education and elementary education at Arizona. He is a longtime educator, actor and activist in community affairs in the San Diego-area. He wrote a blog for TucsonCitizen.com before the site ceased current-events operations last year. He agreed to continue offering his opinion and insight with AllSportsTucson.com. McCray also writes blogs for SanDiegoFreePress.org.
I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”
But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.
It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home.” Proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.
I was on the scene when the catalyst for such a wonderful happening began. That, too, was refreshingly otherworldly, the bride’s hand asked for in the middle of a dense bamboo forest, along a hike on an idyllic path of cascading waterfalls and pools and tropical plants of a multitude of alluring hues, leading to Seven Sacred Pools in east Maui on a spectacularly beautiful day in June.
Others on the trail were, of course, the handsome proposer, Jon Carlos Senour and the proposee, the beautiful and radiant woman of his dreams, Briana Lynne Boyd; the man who later officiated over the tying of the knot; the groom’s sister, niece and nephew. And his mother who made the trip possible for all of us in celebration of her retirement.
I will forever remember the happiness that filled the air of the absolutely stunning setting in which we basked like human beings free of all cares and woes and earthly concerns. Life was surely good in this place at that time.
It seemed as though hardly any time had passed before those of us who had been invited to the wedding were gathered in a spacious hotel suite at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, making the high pitched happy excited noises that old friends and family make as they catch each other up on what’s happening in their lives, interweaving the present with memories of yore, referring to good times and high times more so than down times as “Oye como va” is barely heard over the sounds of delight. Smiles and laughter and hugging and high fives filled the room.
Then, on the next day, the lovers “jumped the broom,” literally, after sharing words that were poetic in their very content. Jon Carlos says to Briana, in part, softly from the depths of his soul, that his vows to her are more privileges than promises, that it is a privilege that he gets to be with her and have fun with her and sing and dance with her and laugh and cry with her and and live and dream and grow with her, that he gets to be her husband. He spoke to her being his best friend and says “when we are together, I feel that I am ‘home.’ You have shown me more love, kindness, compassion, and understanding than I have ever known. It is the greatest privilege that I will ever know that you love me and that I get to love you, and I promise to, with all that I am and all that I will ever be, each and every day for the rest of our lives.”
If there was a dry eye in the audience, sitting high above La Jolla Shores, I couldn’t tell from the tears that flowed from mine. We were privileged to see the concept of “home” in a new light.
I was feeling it because I’ve seen, from now being a part of Jon Carlos’s family, just how much he loves Briana. She is truly his princess to which she wrote to Maria, his mother: “A man who treats his woman like a princess is proof that he was born and raised in the arms of a queen.” He, indeed, was.
And Briana, too, speaks of “home” in her vows, seeing Jon Carlos as her prince, a gift from the Universe that has blessed her life with joy and peace, with forgiveness and laughter, with sweetness and love. She tells him with a gleam of admiration in her eyes that he is her hero and when she looks into his eyes she sees her “home.” She asks of him to be no other than himself, and in return she will be his greatest supporter, friend, and love, through good times and bad.
“I promise,” she says, “to respect your uniqueness and individuality, to make you laugh and always give you the benefit of the doubt, to support you and share in your hopes, dreams and goals, and to honor our love when it is easy and especially when it is hard. I give you my heart now, and completely. May you always feel deeply loved, without condition or reservation, because indeed you truly are.”
A tissue salesman could have walked among us and garnered a fortune at this point.
The wedding was the most pleasant of experiences, giving all of us in attendance a look at love in the raw, a look at two people making their way “home.” That, alone, made this marriage ceremony special in my watery eyes.
And just from the music the Deejays played, I would say that this will be a “home” of harmony, because these precious human beings picked the songs and not once did I find, as I danced and danced and danced, a tune that I disliked in any way.
This was truly a magical day. I felt privileged just being there.