The Really Big Stuff

My friend Pam’s wedding is this Saturday. I’m maid of honor, a first for me, although this will be the fifth wedding in which I’ve been an attendant. I talked to Pam briefly last night, and frankly she’s close to a nervous breakdown. It has nothing to do with getting married — she’s fine with the “till death do us part” stuff — but her family is driving her nuts. Two sets of aunts and uncles have separated in the past few weeks and she’s worried about them misbehaving on Saturday and ruining her day.

I was indignant. Don’t people have any sense of decorum? It’s her day, darnit, they should remember that nothing matters except that two beloved people are pledging their hearts and souls to each other for ever n’ ever, amen. Show a little respect for the really big stuff. The soapbox bucked, however, as I remembered freaking out earlier in the day about the fact that two old flames of mine will be at the ceremony. I better listen to my own rantings more often.

Is modern society losing its reverence for the sacred things of the past? Definitely. In most cases, I think this is a good thing — if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’re screwed. But some things — birth, love, death — should still evoke awe, in my opinion. For instance, think of the suicide jumper in Seattle earlier this week: if you had been stuck in traffic for three hours, watching her indecision, would you have yelled for her to jump and get it over with? Will I scowl when my ex shows up on Saturday with his new girlfriend? I like to think not. We need to make sure that the great mysteries of the heart and the shadows on either side of life (which probably have a lot to do with each other) still have the power to stop us in our tracks.