All the family was there, and we all looked nice. Lifetime friends from all over the country came, and those who couldn’t sent wonderful cards. The church hosted a reception afterwards, and we schmoozed and hugged and told stories. When it was over, we were glad to get off our feet.
But instead of gifts from a registry, people sent flowers, and instead of a wedding, we had a memorial service.
It reminded me of our family’s weddings, and the camaraderie and deep emotion that flowed these past few days were reminiscent of other, happier gatherings.
I really wish someone had been getting married. I really wish Dad were still here, and I have moments of shock when I realize – in my gut and not my head – that he is gone.
Rumi once wrote, “Our death is our wedding with eternity.” Maybe that’s why things felt familiar. Maybe Dad isn’t gone, but has simply gone on. I like to think so.
In the days to come there will be notes to write, and things to put back in order, and grief that morphs into different grief. But I’m holding on to the the wedding image, too. I imagine Dad raising a glass to our successes. I imagine him finding Benny Goodman’s band and kicking up his heels. I imagine him waiting for my mom to make her entrance, and I hope that doesn’t happen for a good long while, at least in the way we count time.
Maybe life’s great events – birth, marriage, death – are really just variations on a theme: the theme of an unknowable adventure that lies ahead, an adventure that will be the best kind of adventure as long as love is present.
See you soon, Dad – but not just yet.