- Rais Bhuiyan, the survivor of an attack in which “Mark Anthony Stroman, 41, a stonecutter from Dallas, shot people he believed were Arabs, saying he was enraged by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” Bhuiyan is now advocating against Stroman’s pending execution in Texas.
I found this quote on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog, and I echo his reaction:
This should be directed at those of us who believe in the injustice of the death penalty, and believe in free worship. It’s deeply inspiring.
To my wife Katherine,
I remember two years ago today, waiting for you to walk down the aisle. I was not anxious or nervous about our future, but instead jittery like an athlete lined up for the national anthem. My legs wouldn’t stop moving, the reverence of the moment and the church overwhelmed by my excitement. I thought about meeting you halfway down the aisle just to be together as soon as possible. I worried your bridesmaids might tackle me if I tried.
Two years later a bit of the “I can’t believe we get to say husband and wife” giddiness is gone, but the thrill of building our lives together is stronger than ever. I’m enormously proud of the woman and doctor you’ve become.
I think marriage forces us to become our better selves. To set aside a few natural impulses in favor of a more perfect union of two flawed individuals. I thank you for helping me cast aside selfishness, reject retaliation when my ego is threatened, and understand with perspective and grace how fortunate and privileged we are.
But our life together is more than a character-building exercise. You have helped me to know joy and gratitude unlike any I’ve experienced in my life.
You entertain and embrace my various and fleeting passions…many half-finished projects and once-thrilling-now-forgotten hobbies and plans attest to that. You take me seriously enough that when I tell you I want to raise chickens, you start reading up on poultry diseases. But just seriously enough that when I tell you I want to live on a rural farm surrounded by sheep and goats you laugh and bring goat cheese home from Whole Foods.
You challenge me to be smarter, healthier, and less squeamish when it comes to blood and bodily afflictions. You push me beyond my comfort zone (namely: the internet) into the real world of spontaneous fun and simple pleasures. The unconditional and pure love you show our dog just makes me love you more.
You’re the peas to my carrots, the cream to my coffee, and the spicy salsa to my everything else.
There’s a certain breed of typically (but not exclusively) older married man who spots what he thinks is a kindred spirit when he sees my wedding band. This is the guy who throws out cliched insults about my bride like calling you—whom he’s never met—my “ol’ ball and chain” or the one who made me “walk the plank” or “domesticated” me. The guy looking for a getaway or excuse to spend some time—any time—away from his own nagging spouse.
I will never be that guy. I’m grateful that you let me share your life and I’ll be grateful every day we spend together. I want to cook, laugh, travel, and change. Even mourn, struggle, and wonder. Together: you and I. I can’t imagine any other way.
The part of our wedding that I most remember came as we said our vows and I slipped a ring on your finger. The last words I remember speaking were “I will honor you.” I hope I’m doing a pretty good job honoring you, and I know you would let me know if I wasn’t.
Thanks for honoring me too.
I’ll miss my friend, his sax, the force of nature his sound was, his glory, his foolishness, his accomplishments, his face, his hands, his humor, his skin, his noise, his confusion, his power, his peace. But his love and his story, the story that he gave me, that he whispered in my ear, that he allowed me to tell… and that he gave to you… is gonna carry on. I’m no mystic, but the undertow, the mystery and power of Clarence and my friendship leads me to believe we must have stood together in other, older times, along other rivers, in other cities, in other fields, doing our modest version of god’s work… work that’s still unfinished. So I won’t say goodbye to my brother, I’ll simply say, see you in the next life, further on up the road, where we will once again pick up that work, and get it done.
Big Man, thank you for your kindness, your strength, your dedication, your work, your story. Thanks for the miracle… and for letting a little white boy slip through the side door of the Temple of Soul.” —
I loaded up my 4th of July mix with some of the E Street Band’s greatests in the Big Man’s honor.