“What if, when there is a wedding, there is also a funeral?” my twelve year old daughter says to me from the backseat on the way to school this morning.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“What if when a person gets married, there is also a funeral…to bury the person they were. Because when they get married, they become a new person. A different person. Like…before she was Miss Leafstone…or whatever. That person will die and she will become a new person – Mrs. Whatever.
So…when you get married, there’s a wedding…and a funeral.”
Did I mention this was on the way to school? I had not had nearly enough coffee.
Sure, perhaps she was simply talking semantics – Miss changes to Mrs, with likely a new last name, too. Therefore, she becomes a different person.
Perhaps she was not being literal, you say. Perhaps this child of divorce has not come to equate marriage with death.
Except…this child of mine…I have never met someone paradoxically so dreamy and so awake. WHO KNOWS what she meant.
So what does one say to a twelve year old (at 8am, during a five minute car ride) about marriage as it relates to death?
“Hopefully when you get married you will still feel like YOU,” I said.
It was admittedly trite, but no matter. She had already lost interest in the topic. Her question was rhetorical. She does this to me often. She knocks the wind out of me with her words, and then moves swiftly on…leaving my head spinning with what was to her a fleeting – even whimsical – thought.
I pondered it all the way to work.
Now, I am self-aware enough to understand that my own experience with being married casts this funeral-wedding scenario in a particularly ominous light.
Right there at the wedding…she ceases to be.
The She she was, is gone.
I can understand that those of you who are happily married, or who are looking forward to becoming happily married, might even look upon this metaphor as beautiful and poetic…perhaps even envisioning a sort of two headed phoenix flying up from the ashes of your former selves. If so, I am so very happy for you, truly.
So many of us – women and men alike – lose ourselves within marriages. To a certain extent that’s what is supposed to happen, right? (Looking back I’d even say I was eager to become lost in my marriage.)
“I” becomes “we”.
We no longer make decisions for ourselves alone. The consequences of our actions, for better or for worse (as they say), are felt in tandem. Our lives become intricately interwoven.
Whether a marriage is healthy or not, we do change. We should, at the very least, grow. Hopefully, we find someone who makes us strive to be the best version of ourselves.
The shadow side is, sometimes we change in ways we never wanted. Or worse, we move beyond change and completely lose ourselves. We as individuals cease to be. Which can become a problem if and when we realize that the marriage is not going to last.
If we are no longer We, and I am no longer I –
Who is this person?
Back to the funeral at a wedding thought…
If we (metaphorically) die when we get married, what happens when we divorce?
Are we resurrected?
Morbidity aside, it makes me laugh a bit to think about digging myself up – the me in the white dress. I would be quite surprised by the trajectory of my marriage….of my life. If I woke her up and informed her of all that has transpired since the wedding – the last five years especially – she might ask where the shovel is…
Put me back in!
That girl was NOT READY.
No, thankfully…in this metaphorical scenario…I don’t believe we are resurrected. At least, not as our former selves. No, my dears…we are so much more. We have grown so much. We can handle what we thought we never could – or what we never imagined we’d have to. We’ve struggled to put one heavy foot in front of the other, and now we look back and see that we have walked for miles and miles.
Perhaps all of life’s obstacles and tragedies are about dying little deaths; about letting go of who we were and meeting new versions of ourselves.
If we’re lucky, each iteration of us is a wiser, more compassionate one…
One who knows how strong she really is.