When my wife was looking back at the year that was, she made an interesting observation. It turns out that 2012 had its share of sad events for her. In fact, the sad events outnumbered the happy events by 4 to 1. In 2012, Cherie had attended 4 funerals and a wedding.
If the phrase sounds familiar, you may be confusing Cherie’s eventful year with the title of the 1994 British comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, starring infamous pervert, Hugh Grant, and Emilio Estevez’s obsession in St Elmo’s Fire, Andie MacDowell. The movie follows some late 20-somethings through their busy year of milestone events. At their tender ages, this meant more weddings than funerals by a 4 to 1 margin. Spoiler Alert: The funeral in the movie was the surprise.
Going to weddings all the time back in the day was fun, assuming you had a date and you weren’t required to buy dyed-to-match shoes that you could never wear again (Cherie, not me – I rent). Funerals include the root word ‘fun’, but that word is rarely used to describe them. It’s nice to see friends and family but the circumstances are less than ideal and the music not quite as peppy. Rarely do you need a DJ to spin Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
Like the annual turn of the calendar page from one year to the next, the change from more weddings to more funerals is just another transition phase in our lives, and equally predictable. We moved from the wedding shower period to the baby shower period to the kid birthday party period to the graduation party period to the niece and nephew wedding period and ultimately, soon enough, to the retirement party period. We know what comes after that.
Times have changed for us, but it changes for everybody.
The get-togethers we attend now include casual conversations diagnosing various mystery ailments where 25 years ago, the topics included dating etiquette and a shared hatred of parachute pants. 25 years ago, if someone brought up an STD, it meant they were promiscuous; today if someone mentions an STD it means they are on short term disability due to routine in-patient procedure. 25 years ago, we complained about having no money and that was true; today, we complain about having no money but at least we have assets. 25 years ago, we missed our college days; today, we miss our kids who are at college.
It’s OK. It’s a new year and things will progress as nature intends. Four funerals and a wedding is the new normal, but that will also change as time goes by. I fear the ratio will continue grow in favor of the funerals. We can’t change it but we can accept it. It’s a reason to get together anyway.
I’m not trying to be morbid. Funerals are sad occasions, but they are life occasions nonetheless.
Here’s hoping for a new year that beats the odds.