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Marriage, Lost and Life

What is the point of getting married?


This past weekend, my cousin got married.  Weddings on my mother’s side of the family adhere to a strict mythology that has been decades in the making.  I know without a shadow of doubt that during the ceremony I will see my aunt Cindy sobbing uncontrollably.  My father, armed with his glitzy camera, will have positioned himself at the best angle to take pictures.   A pastor and professional ‘marry-er’, my mother will be monitoring the flow of the event with a hawk’s precision.  Just as I can count on Sawyer calling Kate, “Freckles,” I know with certainty that my family will overrun the reception, deftly converting it into a gay dance party circa 1988.  Called from our seats by ABBA, my family unites as a hungry chorus on the dance floor.  For a few brief minutes, we become seventeen again, men and women alike.  Lost in bliss, having the time of our lives and diggin’ the dancing queen.

Mysteriously, my aunt Cindy always manages to procure the mic from the DJ when the B-52′s shimmy from the speakers.  She makes her way around the room, judiciously doling out opportunities to shout, “Love Shack.”  My uncle Bill, benefiting from nepotism, always gets to sing/speak the Fred Schneider parts.  Cindy, and Cindy alone wails, “Tin roof…rusted!”  Everyone claps and the party continues.  When the first few bass licks of  Staying Alive rattle around the room, my family immediately hunches over, reenacting the Help! I’ve been stabbed in the back! dance from the movie, Airplane! Inexplicably, much like the presence of polar bears on the island, we crowd together and perform an impassioned rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.  Todd, our adopted cousin calls out to the other guests, “This is a Ouellette family tradition,” as though that somehow provides an answer as to why this blood related ensemble feels compelled to belt out a song at a wedding about a murder.  As a family, we find redemption through, Like a Prayer.  A dozen Madonna’s flit about the dance floor, clapping their hands and crying out, “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem…”  It’s weird.  But awesome.

The wedding becomes our island.  It draws us from all over the world to one destination so that we can share, connect, scream, fight, cry, smile, dance, name-call and high-five.  We arrive as disparate and lonely people, dressed in our Sunday best but leave renewed and connected.  Weddings remind us how powerful love can be.  How overwhelming and crazy and joyful and emotional.  Without weddings, we all would be, in the words of my cousin Michael, “Waiting around for people to die.”

Above all, weddings give us hope, if only for a brief moment, that we can love and be loved.  That there is something bigger at play in our lives.  Something mysterious and without answers but powerful nonetheless.

And that is what Lost so eloquently reminded us all last night; that it is not what you have done that defines your life, but the relationships you have had.  In the final moments as Jack is preparing for his death, his father explains, “You needed all of them — and they needed you.”

Next time you receive a wedding invitation in the mail, check ‘yes.’  Go back to the island.  It’s not done with you yet.

-Cathleen Carr

22 Responsesto “Marriage, Lost and Life”

  1. The Countess says:

    I do not have enough words to express how much I love this post. You captured that intangible something that I always feel at my crazy family’s weddings….no wonder I watched LOST all those years :-)

  2. Susan says:

    Awww. So glad you pulled Lost into this!

  3. cindy says:

    Ok, so you’ve made me cry! I love this blog. Being with you and the rest of the crazies energizes me. Here’s the reason I cry at weddings. I copy this from 4 weddings and a funeral: I am in awe that people can make this commitment. I feel so much of the love shared watching each bride and groom say their vows. I feel the energy from the friends and family in the audience as they witness the most public yet the most private moment in a couple’s lives. But also, I’m a sucker for a microphone and love shack.
    thanks for the blog. You are great!

    • cathleen carr says:

      Oh Cindy…you’re the grand master! You’ve taught all us nieces and nephews how to boogie down!

  4. robyn okrant says:

    HA! Great blog. I wondered if Lost would make its way into your post today. You’re awesome. I watched on my own last night (Jim lost his patience with the show a couple years ago) and thought about you guys.

    • cathleen carr says:

      Peter and I went through a journey last night, that’s for sure. Maybe they will release a director’s cut that Jim can enjoy. Trim the fat, you know?

      • Jim says:

        I don’t need any other explanation to LOST than this one. If I ever find myself talking with someone at a party and they bring up LOST I will be prepared to wow them with this analysis. It doesn’t seem everyone has this kind of wedding celebration but I’m thinking we all should.

  5. Von says:

    You nailed it Cathleen, I’d be LOST without at least one wedding of some kind each year or so! I can dance, having the time of my life! But I think it needs to be our crazy familyfor the most part. I went to one wedding of a friends daughter and after watching them literally dance down the isle at the end of the ceremony to a rock song I couldn’t wait for the reception. Sadly it was just cake and punch and noooo! dancing and music! People seemed to just put in their time till it was polite to leave. How sad, that seemed really like Ben waiting outside, not ready to come in and share the love! We’ll have to hire caregivers when we finally get really old, as if, so we can have them twirl us around the dance floor and hold the mic’s for us. As we run out of neices and nephews we can start on the golden anniversaries. Mine and Andy’s is first in 9 and 1/4 years. So our families last episode is far away and a mad jump into the future. Love Shack Baby!

  6. Jessica says:

    Your family is magic.

  7. Jacqueline says:

    I am in awe of the idea of marriage and weddings. As a single somewhat independent almost 32 year old woman I look with respect at my happily married friends and family. When I was younger I vowed marriage wasn’t for me because I was so fearful of divorce. Today I look at marriage as a beautiful bond of commitment between two people. But marriage isn’t a piece of paper it’s a ceremony telling the ones you love that you and your partner have decided to join as one. It is with this belief that I now go out into the world.

    • cathleen carr says:

      Hey Jacqueline- thank you for tour post. A public ceremony of commitment is as good as it gets! With or without the piece of paper!

  8. Todd says:

    I will forever and ever invite those wondering souls onto the dance floor to jump and stomp and sing that joyous ode to mama killing a man. I am the Benjamin Linus of your island in that way. And happy to be as such. Cause we all know Ben wants ta screw Sayid baby…Bam!!!

  9. Michael O says:

    This was great, Cathleen! We had so much fun with everyone, and we’re happy to continue on the mythic family tradition. Next time you should put a spoiler warning up, though. I had to shield Naomi from that second to last paragraph. :-)

    • cathleen carr says:

      Come on- series finale! Spoiler alerts be damned! But I’m glad you protected her… You’re a good husband :)

  10. The Other Uncle Bill says:

    Yup, I cried…when I couldn’t come…when I saw the pictures…and when I got my call to listen in (and yes, join in) on Bohemian Rhapsody from 6000 miles away. Thanks for capturing what it all means and for making me laugh through the tears.

    Congrats Michael and Naomi. Looking forward to seeing everyone for next summer’s gathering!

    (and I think Jack is sexier than Sayid OR Sawyer)

    • cathleen carr says:

      You were missed! Jack is too serious. Don’t get me wrong, he’s super hot but he totally doesn’t have a sense of humor. Sawyer would be a great date! Unless, of course, you find his letter in his sock drawer…

  11. Bill says:

    Astute analysis, Cathleen.

    Dancing connects us in ways that words can’t. When all of us crazies get together to celebrate a couple’s commitment we’re expressing the pure joy we feel, not just about the couple but about anything. We’re like Snoopy on top of Schroeder’s piano, grooving to the jazz. I get and express so much happiness when we’re all together on the dance floor.

    I hope I always have that, and when I’m together with my boisterous, attention-seeking family I feel so grateful that I was born into this family and that I was born a boy–otherwise, Elsie Ferante would have gotten me.

    And I think Jin has them all beat, although Jack and Sayid are pretty hot, too.

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