Monday, September 01, 2008

A Wedding and A Funeral

So we went to Decatur and witnessed (in Jason's case quite officially as he was the officiate) one of my very good friends get married to her best friend. I had not actually ever met him before today, and I realized as I looked into his very kind face that I've made my life a little poorer for the lack of effort.
At the wedding, I saw friends that I hadn't seen in years, easily since we moved here from Kansas City, and probably not since Jason was ordained when many of them came out to support us and our next journey, admittedly far away from many of them. It was a delicious sort of evening, the kind that reminds you why you spent all that time in the first place making all of those friendships. I am a little chagrined on two fronts, though: one, when Roslyn inevitably crashed at a very ripe hour of eight of the clock, I used it as an excuse to come back and crash with her, and two, I have not a single picture of the day. Let's call it Baby Brain, but I have no photographs of any of my friends, of my daughter, of what was just a joyful evening. Eh, c'est la vie; you'll just have to take my word for it.

This last week Jason had to perform what is, for him, something I regard to be a job hazard: a funeral service for a suicide (although to be so blase is undoubtedly a little tactless). This was for a gentleman we didn't know, but who had lived in the community for years and many of Jason's parishoners knew him. It would seem that he had struggled with various demons for some time and, in the end, he had to succumb to them and their despair.
You see, I'm not unsympathetic. I wasn't raised in a belief structure and haven't claimed a faith that condemns him. I have compassion for him and the demons that ultimately overtook that bit of the Divine that is in all of us. It reminds me that at one’s own funeral, we can only hope that our family and our friends will gather and celebrate the life we lived and how we touched their lives. I have witnessed funerals of great joy. But, in the midst on one’s own grief--and, oftentimes, guilt--it can be so easy to forget to celebrate the life that has gone and not to take the chance to sit surrounded by family and friends and find comfort in that you all are sharing this loss together.

I was reminded this last week that Passion is not just ecstasy, unconditional, but that its root lies in suffering. That to feel passion is to feel intensified joy, a joy so complete as to be almost terrible. When I married Jason, I felt that; when I saw my first child in the NICU, I felt that; as I feel this new life kick, I feel that still. During a rather emotional marriage service, I watched my friend feel some of that, too. And then, later, I sat with all of my friends and partook in our mutual joy that she has so firmly declared her home in this man with whom she will share the rest of her life.

May all of your weddings be full of passionate joy, and may you find in the midst of the funerals that you can sit with your friends, the record-keepers of your little life, and remember that joy will come again.

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