Weddings and funerals (and Face Book)

6 years ago


There is a wedding this weekend, my friend Leigh’s youngest boy is getting married and I will be honored to watch this young man and his bride take their vows.

I do love a wedding. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I design wedding dresses and flower arrangements in my head. The prettiness lulls me to sleep.

Weddings and funerals. One ceremony eagerly anticipated, the other – dreaded. One, planned for months on end, every detail excruciatingly perfect. Flights compared and booked, best outfits laid out in anticipation; the other put together so hastily that all you can do is hope, through the fog of grief and surprise, that this ceremony will provide some relief from the collective, terrible sadness. We come together out of need – ignoring the distance, putting the expense of the excursion in the back of our heads to be dealt with later.

Weddings are easy. I’m all in for a happy celebration. Funerals require bravery. My rather practical family was never big on funerals. We made a half-hearted attempt when my father died and put together a funky little ceremony followed by a visit to Peter Piper Pizza. I managed to avoid the service for brother’s wife by offering to organize the post-funeral gathering. People thought I was being kind and helpful. In reality, I was in no-mans-land, scurrying around to avoid the grief my family was feeling.

We recently had a loss in my family – a big and violent and terrible loss. Thankfully, my immediate family didn’t have the task of making funeral arrangements, but we came. We all came and stood shoulder-to-shoulder to say good-bye to a young man that, at 10 years old, became a part of our brood – and at 20 became part of our legacy.

We keep track of each others lives on Face Book, leaving comments about how fast the children are growing, congratulating each other on every virtually-shared accomplishment. I’m grateful for the updates and photos that help me be part of lives that I can only watch from a distance, but it’s not enough for me. Something has changed and weddings and funerals and Face Book are not going to be enough anymore. As my family was leaving to go back to their lives my heart began to hurt. We’d leaned hard on each other for this horrible week and it had changed me. After avoiding my family for years, I suddenly needed them to be near, and not just for the big stuff in life – not just for weddings and funerals.

I hope that the fact that I’ve discovered that I like my family as much as I like my friends is a good place to start. I think I’ll be nicer and less judgmental and join in and quit worrying about who did what to whom. For me, the lessons learned from the profound losses and the great joys of life give meaning to the rest of the days – the days that slip by without notice, the days with no weddings to attend, and gratefully - no funerals.

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