Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love? Yeah, I'll have some of that.

I went to a country wedding this weekend. My best friend's son got married, which seems completely implausible since the first time I met him, he was sweet, short and 4. Younger than my oldest son. It makes me feel alternately approaching-death-too-rapidly old and just so lucky to be alive and experiencing moments like this, especially at times like these.

It was impossible not to juxtapose this beautiful, poignant occasion with the horrors happening across the Atlantic in Norway. Even as my friend cried into my shoulder as we watched her son dance that first dance (Unchained Melody) with his new wife - the pain of letting go so sharp and heavy, I couldn't help but imagine all the mothers in Oslo who were looking out over the world with new eyes. My friend's tears were mixed with happiness. The letting go was more of a transition, not a finality.

And then, during the reception, came news of Amy Winehouse. Love her, hate her, pity her... it hit me in the gut because she's not the only junkie in this world who hasn't been able to scrape it together. Most junkies aren't followed around by paparazzi documenting them at their most vulnerable and sickest. Aside from the lamentable waste of talent (I really loved her first album) it was the first time one of these "young tragic" deaths hit me in that Mommy way. She was somebody's freshly scrubbed baby one day 27 years ago, all pink and pissed off and ready to take on the world. I can imagine clearly how her parents felt when that voice first came out of that child. So much promise.

Addiction is a beast some people just can't seem to beat down well enough. I witness it among various people I love on an ongoing basis. It is harrowing to watch. To be honest, I have a feeling I wouldn't fare so well myself if I wound up in that situation. I think some of us are more prone to that kind of slippery slope. So I feel for her struggle, not that she wasn't responsible for her own bad decisions, and most of all, for her loved ones. I really like what Russell Brand had to say about his friend. I'm also glad the coverage online at least, hasn't seemed to overshadow the news out of Oslo, where the true tragedy lies.

By the time Saturday wrapped up, I was mentally exhausted, but somehow, still feeling hopeful. To witness two "kids" so devoted, so in love, despite of and because of all the utter shit in the world, pledge to anybody who cared to listen, that they were ready to take it all on, together, was a reminder to savor this. So much about this modern life is pure, petty bullshit. It's the people that matter, cliche or not. I don't think anyone out on that island or in that building in Oslo were thinking about anything except wanting desperately to spend another moment in this screwed up, angry world with the people they loved, just like my friend's son and his new wife.

Love is powerful. It can't compete with a madman with a scary gun when it comes to survival, but it drives us, for better or worse, richer and poorer, and even in the face of loss. When you read the last writings of people who know their time is coming to a close, it's never about how much shit they accumulated or being so glad they finally got that promotion. It's all about love making all the bad parts worth the trouble.

Today I'm feeling a little less worried about the drawer full of bills and the dead tree in my backyard and the heat index, and a lot more focused on the love I'm so lucky to share, and my little family. I know it's sappy, and obvious, and predictable in the wake of an event like Oslo, but I wanted to get it down on paper anyway. I also know it's really not possible to live vicariously through the dying. We see a tragedy like this play out, or we witness someone facing their mortality in a very real way and we are triggered to reflect on the blessings in our lives, but it's too often fleeting. But I will try, once again, to remember. It's a worthy goal to live life with your love on your sleeve, Hallmark moment or not.

It's really not a bad story to leave behind. I was here. I was loved. I loved some people, a whole lot. The end.


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