Seniors on the Coast – Dec/Jan 2019
In my professional life as celebrant, therapist and bespoke funeral specialist my weeks are often poignant with love and loss – a juxtaposition of the deep sadness of a funeral, the joyful fizz of a wedding and perhaps the realness of a couple navigating challenging relationship territories.
I love the variety and depth of my work but sometimes the rich tapestry of life delivers crescendos of peak experiences that can whirl you up in an eddy of emotions and land you….well…not in Kansas Toto! Sometimes life and love bring a disproportionate amount of both love filled joyful moments as well as sadness and loss across my path.
This week, though, it’s been a ‘four funerals and a wedding’ week. Like the famous movie, only in reverse, and much less swearing…well maybe only just a bit less. Unlike the movie though, there is no tidy happy ending, rather life goes on with tough news and challenging moments keeping on rolling in like the tide with cherished ones getting scary diagnoses, little ones growing up too soon, a family pet dying and even the climate displaying a menacing derangement.
The landscape of love and loss is my workplace. However, this last week has been a bit extraordinary. I have had to draw deeply not only on my professional skills and knowledge but also the seek the care of others, walk a well worn trench along my beach; as well as calling in the big guns too…..a call out to the great mystery and source of life and love….God, and the Universe to keep me in a safe and secure embrace.
Some eeks there are not enough ‘emoticons’ on my iPhone to describe the rollercoaster experience…. a particularly challenging funeral of a septuagenarian ; the harrowing loss of a dear fur child; a joyful gender reveal mid wedding ceremony; or MC’ing at a friend’s wedding reception, capturing the unfiltered moments of love and connection.
At this wedding the guests had been invited to write on message cards their answers to various questions about the couple and I was sharing some of the gold nuggets of wit and wisdoms as the evening flowed. One of the questions was, “where do you see us in 10 years time?” One gorgeous gentleman responded, “I’m 78. I’ll be happy if I see you anywhere in 10 years time!” Much laughter followed, and yet, like a lot of raw humour, the truth is very close to the surface.
In our most happy moments the delicate tango of life and love reminds us that within the rich hombre of a live, mortality lingers. Death is our final dance card. Love and loss; joy and sadness are always present, in passionate embrace, in the midst of any celebrations. Especially at Christmas, Holidays, School End, Summer Break and New Year, the sheer reality of endings and beginnings play out alongside the tinsel, songs and gatherings, with even greater definition and contrast.
It is true, amidst the joy and laughter and love, their emotional opposites are never too far away. Our human experience is uniquely characterised by duality. There is no life without death, happiness without sadness, love without hate, joy without sorrow, and laughter without tears.
Generally life meters out these contrasting experiences in gentle measure, in a usual ebb and flow but sometimes, we can experience a ‘king tide’ event. Sometimes it feels too much.
How do we cope? How do bear up? How do we resume?
When Australian Cricketer Phil Hughes died in 2015 the beautiful words of the Captain of the hour, Michael Clarke, seemed to best light the way, as he reflected on the human Spirit, “We must listen to it. We must cherish it. We must learn from it. We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on”, because greater than the forces of duality, is the natural cycle of life and love.
The cycles, the seasons and the circle of life continue eternally and we evolve, richly spiralling ever upwards towards our continual advancement, betterment and greatness.
And as I finish, an email comes through from another recent couple I married. A honeymoon conception. Baby is due in June. Life and love comes up trumps again! Ah joy.
Much love. Sarah