I've always been a sucker for weddings. I'll cry tears of happiness at the wedding of two dear friends, or also at the wedding of my colleague's daughter whom I've met once before. But after I got married, there's something especially nice about attending weddings with my husband. I hold his hand, rest my head on his shoulder, catch his eye and smile. Weddings remind me that beneath the grind of daily life, deeper than the absent minded affection we treat each other with, we too have a love that is deep and pure and worth tears of joy.
But I didn't realize that the same is true of funerals. I went to two memorial services the year my mom died, and it was no surprise that they affected me deeply. One was mere weeks after Mom's death, and the other was for one of her oldest, dearest friends. Yesterday though, I went to a "celebration of life" for the husband of a woman I worked with and for during the early days of my career. The loss wasn't mine to mourn. But all afternoon yesterday, all morning today, I'm thinking of my own losses. The last weeks of my mom's life; the end of my dad's. Watching my old friend collapse against her daughter, forehead to forehead, made me think about my sisters and I, how we supported each other and bewildered each other with our different responses to grief. A large fluffy dog--a Newfoundland or a Bernese Mountain Dog--passed through the crowd and soaked up the love and affection. I thought about how cold I was all the time the winter Mom died, how I longed for a good Latvian pirts (sauna) to get myself warmed all the way through.
These are commonplace rituals, events most people attend repeatedly throughout their lives. But you don't really know what they are until you've been at the heart of one.