There’s no how-to manual on walking your only daughter down the aisle.
Is it OK to cry? Maybe not a good look, but still. Can I tell her I love her? Can I kiss her? Can I scream “I don’t understand why she’s not 5 anymore?”
Somehow, I made it down that aisle with Julia and, yes, I cried and told her that I loved her, before handing her off forever to her new main guy.
He’s Abel Trejo, a Mexican national she met and fell in love with in her three years as a foreign correspondent in Mexico City. They met during her second week there at a salsa dance class, their eyes locking up from across the room. He asked her to dance and they didn’t part until night’s end. The next morning, he texted as promised. And their journey began.
When we met six months later on a trip, he gave us gifts and hugs. We were so impressed by this sincere, polite, guy that I teased Julia that if she didn’t marry him, I would.
Their love has grown and transcended so much, from her coming back to the United States alone two years ago to him getting a tech job in San Francisco.
They got engaged a year ago. The look on Julia’s face as he proposed on bended knee is the most joy I’ve ever seen in her.
They got married in La Jolla because it was convenient for the big contingent of his family members that came from their home in Oaxaca, Mexico.
One of the many things I’m learning about that wonderful culture is that it is very family oriented, and big into wedding celebrations. A typical event there lasts countless hours, includes hundreds of guests and features multiple meals. Their wedding was smaller than the Oaxacan norm, but it included a traditional dance by the couple with Julia in a colorful, hand-embroidered Oaxacan wedding dress.
Abel’s groomsmen tossed him in the air a number of times, did handstands across the dance floor, and used squirt guns to deliver shots of mescal the most creative way ever.
Their wedding included the bride and groom’s personally written wedding vows, a beautiful poem Abel’s sister America wrote about their love, Julia’s 89-year-old grandfather looking on, the father-daughter dance to The Beatles’ song “Julia,” and the special few who couldn’t make it at the last minute, including Julia’s favorite Vista Murrieta High School teacher.
Then there were the speeches and another dad duty. I was to conclude, following Abel’s dad, who spoke in Spanish because it was truly a bilingual affair. I plotted my thing out in my head in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, a frequent occurrence that week.
I spoke about when we brought her home to our new tract home in Murrieta in spring 1989, the town and Julia first growing. She cried a lot — I think 24/7 — and that first night home at about 3 a.m. I calmed her by walking around our first house, talking about what we would do together and the big dreams we had for her.
So many have come true for Julia, from going to her dream college to making it in a big way in her dream job, journalism, to the most important quality of all, being a great person, especially being so empathetic, something a bridesmaid brought up in a speech about her.
Looking on at Julia and Abel as I concluded, I said our dreams for her have come true too, especially on this day. It’s all a parent can ask.
Things finally winded down a couple hours later (the Mexican crowd is not used to closing a reception so early), I hugged Abel’s father and he said he’s already planning another celebration in Mexico.
He promises it will be an epic affair.
This greatest of celebrations is to be continued.
Reach Carl Love at email@example.com