Through hardship, the village will be thereSAM COOK: The bride is dancing now, dancing with the man she has vowed to spend her life with. She looks beautiful on her wedding night, blond hair spilling down in curly tendrils, blue eyes glinting in the DJ’s lights.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
The bride is dancing now, dancing with the man she has vowed to spend her life with. She looks beautiful on her wedding night, blond hair spilling down in curly tendrils, blue eyes glinting in the DJ’s lights.
We have come halfway across the country to watch from the fringes of the dance floor, to be here for her wedding, the first in her family. Genealogically, she is the daughter of my wife’s nephew. We are close to the family, and there was no question about our coming to the wedding. We would be here for her and for her family from the little town in northeastern Kansas.
Now, there is a break in the music. The groom steps to the side of the dance floor to be with his family. The bride turns and points to her younger brother, just a ninth-grader. He is sitting among other family members in a gray suit that’s a bit short in the sleeves.
It is his turn to dance.
He unfolds himself from the chair, this young quarterback of the ninth-grade football team, and shuffles toward his older sister. She takes him in and they embrace each other in the lights as the music begins. The young man buries his head against her bare shoulder, and she buries hers against his.
It becomes clear now, as they glide across the floor, that both are sobbing.
Soon, nearly everyone watching is doing the same. Women dab at the tears. Men wipe away the moisture at the corners of their eyes.
They all know.
They know about the father of the bride. They know how badly he would love to have been dancing with his daughter tonight. But he couldn’t hold on that long against the cancer he had battled for 10 years. It took him away from all of them two years ago, when he was just 49. It took him from his wife and the bride and the young boy and the college-age daughter who had delivered the eloquent toast just moments before.
Beneath the folds of the bride’s ruffled gown, sewn into the fabric of her dress, are two handprints. They are her dad’s handprints, cut from the fabric of a favorite pair of shorts he used to wear. Her aunt had seen to that.
The music plays on. The bride and her brother move across the floor, locked in each other’s arms, as if the rest of the world does not exist.
Somewhere, in the darkness at the edge of the dance floor, their mother looks on. She’s the one with the short blond hair, just growing in after her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She has been battling breast cancer, diagnosed not long after her husband died.
You wonder how much one family can bear.
But I look around the room at the bride’s extended family and all of their friends, a hundred or more strong. About a year before the bride’s father died, someone organized a 5-kilometer run in their small town, and more than 500 people showed up to raise money for the family.
Talk about a village.
Many of those same people are here now, on this wedding night. I suspect they will be there, pulling for the bride and her family, long after this dance is over.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/samcookoutdoors or on Facebook at facebook.com/samcookoutdoors.