Monday, November 01, 2010
So many forms of Impermanence
My brother Alex got married this weekend. It was a Halloween wedding, resplendent with major crafting done by my now sister-in-law, Patty, and many images of love mixed with impermanence. Bride and Groom skeletons, for instance, held up pumpkins with their names carved out, and a ghoulish butler invited everyone into the reception room.
Witches, goblins, zombies and ghosts attended the wedding, along with, of course, living costumed creatures: Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Masquerading Bridesmaid (that was me), a few devils and belly dancers. Some kind of goliath, a few goths and a secret detective who gave his ID away right away. One baby pumpkin, and so on. But the first list - witches, goblins, ghosts and zombies - struck me in particular because for my brother, sister-in-law and me, another set of ghosts attended the wedding: Alex's and my dead parents, Michael and Tricia. Patty, my sister-in-law, suggested that they place a white rose on each chair for our parents in the front row during the ceremony - and so in the front row at the ceremony (attended by other ghosts, goblins and ghouls) there lay their ghostly traces. Later, I carried the white roses with me everywhere - they sat at Dylan's and my dinner table, and visited the DJ table where Dylan made sure plenty of Thriller and other celebratory scary music was played to dance to. Now they are home with me, where I will dry them and add them to my Dio de las Muertos shrine.
Everywhere I went this weekend, I saw skeletons and skulls, and not just in costumes, in places I wouldn't expect: in art at the Milwaukee Art Museum, on the streets imbedded in concrete. Impermanence, sometimes in a joyful way, other times in complete sadness that overwhelmed me and threatened my careful makeup job, reared its head completely this weekend. Ostensibly we say that the wedding was Halloween themed because Patty is a Mortician - technically, a County Examiner - with a license plate "Morticia" and Halloween stuff all over their house any time of the year. But for me, the theme was perfect and quite healing, actually, considering how much death Alex and I have lived through in our family: our parents, all of our grandparents and great aunts and uncles, and a godparent all gone by our twenties. What better way to invite our whole family - not ever as big as Patty's, but once more sizeable than now - than to invite the dead as well.
And not just the kindly ghosts, but the haunters, spooks and zombies, too.
To invite impermanence itself to one's wedding is to do a brave act of acknowledging this short life. During his speech at the reception, Alex spoke of how our mother had cried for a month after our father's death. Then, he admitted, he thought to himself "Just get on with it," but now that he has so much to lose - Tyler, his son, and Patty, his wife to name the big ones - he understands her grief so much more.
To love is to know what it is to lose, to lose is to know what it is to love. A risk. Life is a risk.
A Halloween wedding acknowledges this. I thank them both more heartily than they could ever imagine for not only throwing the most fun wedding ever, full of bagpipes and dancing sausages and moustache props, but also for letting the sometimes-difficult truth of our existence dance in its skeletal form alongside our joy and laughter.