Opening the Circle
On a cold January evening a group of family and friends gathered to witness the affirmation of a very special bond. From the moment people began to arrive it was clear that there was a lot of love in the room for Jackie and Mike who had contacted me a couple of months previously to discuss a ceremony to bless their relationship. This was no ordinary couple, both a little bit crazy and crazy in love.
Love and life
They are not the archetypal lovey dovey kind of couple, theirs is a light hearted jokey kind of relationship but don’t let that mislead you, this is a love story of the most profound kind, they have been together for a long time, enjoying life and each other’s company but life has a habit of throwing us a curveball at times and they found themselves thrown into a nightmare when Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer which led to them wanting a ceremony to celebrate their love and commitment to each other witnessed by their nearest and dearest.
The Ties that bind
She is the level headed one in the relationship, he has in Jackie’s words ‘a warped sense of humour, she’s right there! His humour is sometimes a front for the love that he feels and even though he tries not to be ‘soppy’ his love just shines through. When we met we talked through their ideas and it became apparent that a traditional ceremony wasn’t for them. Their mutual love of nature, countryside and animals led to a conversation about old customs and rituals, they soon decided that a handfasting ceremony was perfect for them. We talked about their relationship, what it means to them and what the handfasting would bring to them. They wanted the ceremony to be fun and lighthearted, perfect for them and their positive outlook.
Feathers and Bells
Royal blue because it fits with them both. Aquamarine because Aquamarine has spiritual energy, and encourages communication to be more loving, and heart based. I used gold thread, which is symbolic of the golden thread of love and devotion that Jackie and Mike have given to each other throughout their time together. I sewed in charms, bells in remembrance of Mike’s beard when he first met Jackie in Jilly’s Rockworld he had a fu manchu with bells on, a branch for their love of nature, a butterfly for Mike’s tattoo and also because the symbolism of a butterfly is about acceptance and change in our lives. A cat, cos they love em! A love sign and some hearts for obvious reasons. Some aqua gemstones for love, and fire opals for soothing, clearing and protection and finally some purple gemstones because it’s Jackie’s favourite colour and I finished it off with cobalt feathers, we won’t mention Owls! 😉 but we will mention wolves, you only needed to look around her house to see that she she loved them!
Closing the Circle
As their ceremony came to an end we joined together in saying vows to the couple, vows of love and support and the strength to hold them through the good times and the bad, finishing with the obligatory wind up from Mike, it was too good an opportunity to miss… Their handfast is framed with the copy of the ceremony and will remain in an unbroken circle for as long as love will last, then it was time to celebrate and have fun, something that they are both really good at! They are a great couple, Jackie is doing well, she is an amazing lady with so much determination, we are still in touch and I’m so happy that they will be going on a holiday of a lifetime and a much deserved break.
Thanks Liz, the ceremony was so beautiful, the laughter really lifted Jackie’s spirits and I know made me cry, thank you so much, everybody said how much they loved it, so gald you helped us celebrate our special day, Mike.
It was a really good night. Everyone enjoyed themselves, Mike and I were the last to leave and we got home about 11:45, thanks again for a brilliant ceremony, Jackie xxx
All of that was back in 2016 and at that point Jackie wasn’t expected to live beyond six months but she proved the doctor wrong, always a strong woman, a warrior, she never let her illness define her. She lived life, had the holidays with Mike, spent time with her family doing all of the things we do with those we love, including her pets. Her family knew she was never one for a fuss and treated her no differently, no one was safe from the family banter that was a big part of their lives, even in the hospice laughter rang out and chaos reigned. As time went on, it was becoming obvious that Jackie was struggling to stay with us, she was as always surrounded by her family who were holding her in their love as she slipped peacefully away the day before her 54th birthday.
Her funeral as you might have already guessed, was a real celebration of her life, she had been a biker and was escorted on her final journey by the biker community, everyone wore purple, tears flowed, laughter rang out, I read a beautiful poem written by her daughter, we played the music that was the soundtrack to Jackie and Mike’s handfasting, we even did the hokey cokey! – long story… family placed Flowers on her coffin and to end I read the same poem that I had read for their handfasting, followed by the final piece of music, A long, long, way to go by led Zeppelin.
I carry your heart with me (I carry it in)
By EE Cummings
i carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it
(anywhere I go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me
is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
I want no world (for beautiful, you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
(which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart
(i carry it in my heart)
Jackie’s Last Ride
Images kindly shared by Jackie’s partner Mike
Liz Thompson is a Family Celebrant based in Manchester in the UK and working across the North West of England, Liz creates unique and personal ceremonies and services for life events such as Weddings, Civil Partnerships, Baby naming, Vow Renewal and many more.