And they lived happily ever after….well, that is until the end of the story which is,
Till death (or divorce) us do part…”
There is an end to a marriage. The statistics, no matter how you interpret them, confirm that divorce is a reality. And then there is death. The statistics are quite firm on that point. We are left with the unpleasant, if somewhat intimidating thought that, one way or another, there is an ending to the wedding story.
This dialogue is not a post about the pros and cons of divorce. That is the easy debate. Rather, it is about a more profound and complex discussion on beginnings and endings. We love beginnings, but we have difficulties with endings. Fairy tales have a unique way of tidying up endings with “and they lived happily ever after…” where everyone exists in a world without suffering.
Weddings promise the happy ending by offering a fresh beginning with countless possibilities and vast opportunities. There is an implied guarantee that the romantic scene of hope and renewal, of springtime bliss, complete with blooming flowers and chirping birds, will continue to mark a couple’s life together. We believe because we want to believe. When the wedding cake is shared and the music and toasts seem to go on forever, no thought is given to the possibility of divorce. As for death – well that is decades away…
Symbolism for ending scenes are dry leaves scattered across concrete sidewalks, an autumn wind and a setting sun against a darkening sky. Not quite the poster image to hold up at a wedding reception. Even so, we cannot mourn for the ending, because we have had the beginning, plus the bonus of the years given to a combined journey.
Perhaps if we understood our fear of endings, we would be more generous with living the promise of togetherness. We lead finite lives that must be lived within a limited timeline. All those countless possibilities and vast opportunities offered in the beginning must be realized – now, in the present, in every breath we take. We must capture the wonder of time before it moves into the past.
When the end comes, whatever form it takes, there will be grieving and emotional distress that comes with unwelcome, even acrimonious partings. Even so, the sting will be diminished by the respectful acceptance of the end of a relationship that has grown apart and memories of a life well lived.
And perhaps… maybe, possibly, absolutely…. we have arrived at a new beginning.