Last Saturday, my daughter Asha married her best friend at Agnes Scott College’s Julia Thompson Smith Chapel, a stunning, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired sanctuary.
We’d been planning this moment since December 2015 when Herman Hall Jr. asked Jimmy for her hand in marriage, but I was totally unprepared.
I was ready when she headed off to kindergarten, to foreign places like Spain and Japan, and even to college and her first apartment home, but this was different.
It hit me as such just days before her big day, when she texted me.
“I was listening to the song daddy told me he wants to do the daddy-daughter dance and started crying,” she wrote. “Lawd. Thank you for marrying him and giving me the best daddy in the world.”
That was a first.
It seemed like yesterday, when during moments of exasperation she’d mistake his love for an overbearing troll whose only mission in life was to make hers miserable and was asking me a decidedly different question.
“Why did you marry that man?”
But even then, I knew she loved him so.
More than anything, Asha, that’s what I wish for you and Herm — a love that lasts.
This isn’t the place for deep thought, but you’ll soon discover, if you haven’t already, that life and love have a way of taking us to places we never imagined.
No matter how easy my life with your dad might have looked, it wasn’t always so. There’s nothing particularly easy about merging two personalities, two sets of dreams and extended families and friends.
Watching you vow to love Herm until death, I remembered what a joy this past year has been planning your day with you, grateful for Joy Rollins of Mystique Affairs and a wonderful florist named Sid of Flowers From Us, who patiently walked us through the details.
Watching, I was reminded of the day you and your sister Jamila accepted Christ as your savior and later when your dad baptized the two of you. It warmed my heart to know that you realized long ago the importance of having God in your life.
Watching, my own tears surprised me.
I remembered so many wonderful moments with you that the ones where you disappointed me were like flashes of darkness gone in a moment, in a twinkling of the eye.
So many times I was taken aback by your maturity, like the time when we first moved to Atlanta and were struggling to pay two mortgages because our home in Texas hadn’t sold.
You walked into my bedroom and sensing my anxiety, asked if I was OK and proceeded to reassure me everything would be fine.
You were right and in some small way my inspiration to walk through my storm, trusting God. I never helped anyone hoping for anything in return, but I was so grateful you witnessed me trying.
I still laugh remembering my simple explanation to you about where babies come from.
When a man and a woman have sex, I told you.
“So you and daddy had sex two times?” you followed up.
I never felt I handled that well, but I never gave up trying to be a good mom to you and your sister. I hope you know that.
I hope you know that just because I didn’t cry like other moms (including your Aunt Jo) when you went off to college, graduated and got your first on-air television job, I wasn’t proud of you. I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t happy. I was the happiest I’d been since that February day when you were born. I was so happy there was no room for tears, not even happy ones.
I’d had enough of you slamming doors in your anger, questioning your father’s and my curfews because your friends didn’t have one, and challenging me at every turn even if I knew I’d win. For years, I’d looked forward to reclaiming your bedroom with those pink bubble gum walls, and your leaving meant they were all mine.
Watch: My Daughter’s wedding
That isn’t to say we won’t be there for you, still rooting you on. We will. Herm, too.
But there will be moments when, in the midnights that visit us all, it will be just the two of you. Not because we’ve abandoned you but because midnights are the instruments God uses to get us to live out his plan for us, to be kinder, to love deeper.
In those moments, remember, my sweet girl, to look to him, the only one who can promise that he’ll never leave you nor forsake you and can keep it.
My guess is you’ve figured out that I lied about the number of times your dad and I have had sex but God never will lie. He keeps his promises and will love you no matter what.
Always abide in his love, and he will surely enable you to love your husband and yourself even when you don’t feel like it.