Last month we received this invitation from columnist Peggy La Cerra:
Last Thursday, my beloved fur girl, Spooky, went into the wilds and never returned. She and her brother, Spanky, have been my great teachers for 11 years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned from these indoor-outdoor cats in coyote country is that risking loss is the price of loving fully. So in honor of all of our beloved departed — parents and children, friends, neighbors, and pets — we’d like to invite you to a potluck celebration of “UNPROTECTED LOVE” this coming Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Come as you are, and bring a dish to share, as well as a photo, story, song, poem, or other remembrance of a departed loved one you would like to honor in community with others. If you know of someone who would like to participate, please invite him or her to come and celebrate life and love with us!
For the event, Peggy built a simple altar of planks covered with a cloth where she placed flowers and photos of her parents and, of course, Spooky. To her surprise, about 40 people showed up to the potluck, bringing photos and rings, even ashes to place on the altar. Peggy also had set out about 100 votive candles, and they were lit, one by one, in a ceremony where each person said something about his or her loss. There were hugs and tears, and then the celebration progressed into a party with music and dancing.
Says Peggy, “Spooky was my surrogate child, and yet it was a miraculous event, losing her. The gifts that came as a result of sharing it in our community so far outweighed the loss I felt.”
We’re passing the invitation along because the celebration can be easily adapted — whenever and wherever the need arises.