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Weddings are always a time of optimism, where we all hope that things will run its course for the best Image Credit:

I was at a wedding recently and met people I hadn’t seen in years — in some cases for more than three decades. How do you begin to say what life has been like, what you’ve done, where you’ve been — all within a few minutes of polite conversations. Things are better left unsaid.

Yes, these people are familiar but if they entered my mind over these past years of travelling and living around the world, they would have been of the much younger faces and places of the 1980s. That was the last century, the last millennium, the last flings of a youthful life.

Now these faces of so long ago are wrinkled, with hearing aids, knuckles gnarled by time and arthritis, bodies slowed by ailments and treatments, partners lost and found.

There are children now who have children and there is a familiarity to the younger faces, looking just like we did when we were younger, finding our ways, walking our own paths, making our own mistakes.

Weddings are strange affairs. There is always the hope that the young love will last, that the happiness will endure through better or worse, the sickness and the health that inevitably causes speed bumps, potholes and deep ruts on the road we travel.

Weddings are strange affairs. There is always the hope that the young love will last, that the happiness will endure through better or worse, the sickness and the health that inevitably causes speed bumps, potholes and deep ruts on the road we travel.

- Mick O'Reilly

A time of optimism

Statistically, the odds are against couples now of staying together. And those statisticians would tell you too that fewer couples in the west are choosing to get married, instead committing themselves to living together. But weddings are always a time of optimism, where we all hope that things will run its course for the best.

The hairlines are thinner now too. So too the ranks of those of us who gathered decades before.

Those who were grandparents then are now gone. It is we who are the grandparents now. The wisdom of those who sat us on their knees and taught us of the world, their lives and times, are now gone. We are now the storytellers, the keepers of what went before.

Weddings used to be a time where the young would party long into the night, where the antics of the day would go done in family lore, where the cousins would meet and mingle and promise that they would do things differently than the aunts and uncles.

Now, the music is loud and it’s difficult to talk. Besides words don’t flow as easily as they did before. There’s too much to say what happened in the intervening years, and much is better left unsaid anyway. Yes, it’s nice to see the young having such a good time, but we rarely stay up late.

‘Four Funerals and a Wedding’

Back then, just as the movie title says, there were Four Weddings and a Funeral. Now, our sequel and rule of thumb seems to be ‘Four Funerals and a Wedding’. When mourners gather at funerals, there is more time to talk, the music isn’t loud, but you never speak ill of the dead and things are better left unsaid.

Once where we were young, cousins who danced into the wedding nights and promised not to repeat the mistakes of our aunts and uncles, the great game was to wonder who would be next of us to take our turn walking down the aisle.

Those aunts and uncles are mostly gone, if not physically then certainly mentally, where lights might be on but there’s no one at home. If is now us cousins, distanced by time and life itself, who play the great game again, wondering who will be next to be carried down the aisle, better or worse, sickness and ill health.

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