I haven’t really been present enough to post as of late.
In the three weeks since I last posted, much has transpired. In the events that have transpired I have had a role ranging from ancillary to pivotal, but these events are really other people’s stories. It’s as if the ego, my means of pointing to myself and declaring myself the lead role in my own story, has been granted furlough from constant focus on the self. Thus has been the sabbatical of my own minister.
The second week of June led up to officiating a wedding. For me the process of officiating involves becoming comfortable with the charge I create for the couple, but more so it is about facilitating the union, ensuring my words serve as a catalyst to carry the energy of the love and the bond being created between the couple at that moment. Although I am standing up there doing the majority of the speaking, I am not really a focus, not even for the couple. I am more like a searchlight. One does not pay attention to the circle of light cast upon the ground and across the trees or buildings, one pays attention to what the light reveals. That’s my role as the officiant, to illuminate that connection.
The third week of June was where I was ramping up for that incontrovertible day of indulgence that each of us is bestowed with on the anniversary of our birth. With one wedding behind us and the next two weeks away, I could roll around unabashed in the confetti of self-celebration. I slapped on my grin and my party hat and delightedly marched toward Thursday, the birthday sign hung on the door coaxing me over Wednesday’s proverbial hump, riding the waves of the jubilation of me-day well into the weekend.
With one foot placed upon the path to merriment, Tuesday brought news of Jacque’s doctor, vested partner in her workplace, and friend – all for the last 25 years – being admitted into the hospital. There was certainly cause for anxiety as Joe had been diagnosed with stage 4 bilateral lung cancer only 3 months prior.
The shadow of this man’s condition loomed over the family, the clinic of which he was a partner, and the respective concerns of its employees. Thursday came with my birthday in tow. The significant day and I smiled at each other and raised glasses to reaching the midpoint of this particular decade of my life, then I kissed my birthday goodnight and turned on the porchlight so it could find its way from my front door to its car. I was glad it visited but it wouldn’t be staying for the weekend.
The nine days between Joe’s hospital admission and his passing felt like a month in and of itself. Everyone felt as if they were frozen in amber as his worsening condition stalled, as the ambivalence that is system failure induced coma quietly stared at the family, the coworkers, the partner… not declaring its motives, not giving up its secrets. One hand stays open holding a penny upon which you wish for a miracle, the other is clenched in a fist pleading for him to pass quickly to bring peace to the man and closure to the survivors.
Joe’s passing came two days before the next wedding which I was to officiate. The weekend was saturated with the bipolar flavor of bittersweet, bidding farewells on the left and applauding new beginnings on the right. The weight of my sweet wife shifted from the strange emotional bloat of having been trapped in a tarpit of uncertainty to pure release, the cage of sorrow and gratitude and acknowledgement opened, the grief allowed to alight unfettered into the wind and be carried by the shift of our lives transformed from a perspective that we will never again have.
The pages of these blogs remained empty for the last three weeks as I had no stories of my own to tell, no thoughts that I felt I could label with my identity. Throughout the manic swings between the celebration of beginnings to the lament of endings, I found I was everyone else. I am everyone else. The meaning I have found in my life through these recent events is the meaning I have helped to give the lives of others.