Recently a friend of mine died. He wasn't a close friend, and we were no longer in direct contact. But we had shared friends with whom we were both in contact and we kept track of each other that way. Most of my keeping in touch was done via Facebook.
Some years ago, a close friend of mine died of a brain tumour. She was in Cape Town. I was in the UK.
Many of our shared friends collected together in little huddles to mourn and grieve and remember and console each other, and then of course, they attended the funeral, where they were able to draw a sad line under a life that had been too short by several decades.
I had sent an email of sympathy to her husband, part of which was read out at the service. But I wasn't there.
I desperately wanted to fly 'home' to be among people whose hearts were aching as much as my own. But friends who hadn't seen me in years would be torn between taking advantage of the brief opportunity to spend time with me, and focusing on remembering Madeleine's brief life. I had no wish to upstage Mads on her final journey. I couldn't do that to her husband and young girls. So I sat here in the UK feeling sorry for myself.
On Saturday, my sister is getting married. My family and I spent three weeks in South Africa in April, a trip we booked a year previously, when the wedding had been scheduled for April. When it was postponed, we couldn't reschedule our flights without losing enormous amounts of money. And now that I am without a steady income, we can't risk the expense of another trip (at £800/per person). My parents, all my aunts and uncles, all my cousins will be there - with their spouses whom I have never even met, and their children (ditto). Only my own little family will be absent.
Have we reached the time when it has become appropriate to stream a wedding? Even a funeral? So that family and friends abroad can attend remotely. Greener. Cheaper. More inclusive.
I would have loved to join in the singing at Mads's funeral (we used to sing in the church band together, so I know her family would have chosen wonderful music). I would have loved to hear the eulogies, and wept a little weep that did not feel so very alone.
I would love for my family to be able to join in at my sister's wedding. She's had a rough journey and she's finally marrying someone resembling a human being. She will look stunning in her burnt orange dress as her son walks her down the aisle. Her eldest daughter will have done everyone's make-up to perfection. My aunts and uncles will sit around and catch up. My cousins' children will behave as children do at weddings, and my cousins will deal with them in a wide range of ways.
I would be glad of an image on my computer screen, so I would!
Sadly, my sister doesn't know anyone with the kit to make this happen, so we'll have to settle for the video and photos on disk when they finally arrive.
I've touched on the topic of web-funerals before, web-weddings are surely a variation on that theme. I just wonder why it doesn't happen....
Tuesday, September 23, 2008