Love & Marriage

Love and marriage, love and marriage

Go together like a horse and carriage

This I tell you brother

You can’t have one without the other!

I’m immediately transported back to Married with Children, the escapades of the main characters flitting through my brain. Of course the foul-mouthed husband is now better known for his role in Modern Family, the patriarch of a diverse and colourful reconstituted family. Dramas, big and small, play out around them, reminding us what life is like when we live with others.

Of course if you remember Al in MwC, you’ll remember Peggy, the gorgeous but lazy “mom” with her red hair piled high into a beehive atop her head. She later starred in another sitcom I occasionally tuned into - Eight Simple Rules. I came to love the family, especially the Dad, played by John Ritter, who was so protective of his daughters, and struggled to do the right thing. And then suddenly, Ritter died, the same age as I am now. I was shocked. This wasn’t comedy, this wasn’t a show - this was real life. The cast chose to carry on with the show, their tears real, their grief palpable, a tribute to the man they loved as a friend and co-star. I thought the final of M*A*S*H was tragic - this was even worse.

Fast-forward 15 years. It’s three months - to the day - since I stopped working full time. An email appears in my inbox. It's the Registrar-General who tells me I’m officially registered as a marriage and civil union celebrant, following my interview with two lovely people from DIA. I’m chuffed. Over these last three months, I’ve been cleaning: my body, my house, my mind. I’ve been taking photos, some terrible, others magical. I’ve been learning new tricks in Photoshop. I've been studying and networking. I’ve been updating my will, and getting professional insurance. My migraines are less frequent, my sparkle is returning. But this? I wasn’t expecting registration until November or December, and now I have to rattle my dags, get a portrait, write text for a Facebook page, buy a sound system, design a logo.

“Will you do funerals?” people ask, and I pause. Last year, there were two funerals. The first my dad’s, celebrating the life of a man who had lived 85 full years, doing the things he loved. We ran the ceremony, my sister and I, clear that Dad would have liked the send-off, classical music playing as his treasured collections sat on the table next to him on a sunny winter's day in Hawkes Bay.  And then - just 6 weeks later - another funeral, the daughter of a friend, not yet ready for her first birthday, instead lying in a tiny coffin. Rain, tragedy, heart-break, despair. Life is not fair.

So will I do funerals? The answer is yes. Love is love, and we need to celebrate life and living. I’ll need some practise, to stay calm, to be the rock for families who are distraught. . But as Prince William reminded Cantabrians in Hagley Park as they commemorated the anniversary of the devastating quakes, “grief is the price you pay for love.” 

This blog originally appeared on Sandy’s blog, Living in the Light in August 2018: