Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on a Sunny Day -- My Wedding Toast

I got married Saturday and gave this toast, which wrapped together my feelings about my father's death, my new bride and the emotional Bruce Springsteen concert we went to in September.

This is how it was planned in my head. I was a little overcome in the moment, though, so it came out a little differently.

In one of those sad ironies, just as Karen and I began planning our new life together, my father was going through the last days of his life.

The week before he died in September, I was at his bedside with my family. And it was, of course, a difficult time. So it was nice toward the end of week to come back to Chicago to my own little family – Karen … and the cat. (In that order!) 

That Saturday night we had tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field. It seemed an inappropriate thing to do, given the circumstances, but it turned out to be entirely appropriate, because Bruce worked the crowd that night like an old-time gospel preacher.

During one extended song, he sang this refrain over and over: “Are you missing anybody?” Are you missing anybody? Of course, foremost in his mind was his old friend and bandmate Clarence Clemons, but it felt like he was speaking directly to me – just as I’m sure it did for many others that night who were experiencing their own loss.

Then he said, “Think of who you’re missing, and let ‘em stand alongside you a while.” Think of who you’re missing, and let ‘em stand alongside you a while. It was an incredibly powerful moment.

A few songs later, the skies opened up and it started pouring down rain. And it didn’t stop. And neither did Bruce. He kept right on playing, and he greeted the storm with this song, which has become special to us.

It’s called “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” and it speaks to those times in our lives when we’re confronted with great joy and great sadness simultaneously, and each has the effect of etching the other a little more deeply in our experience. And I know we’re not the only ones to have felt that.

So then a toast: to my father, Lt. Col. Donald Edward Biesenbach. May he always stand alongside us when we need him. To my new bride, Karen, and the lifetime we’ll share alongside each other. And for everyone here: to the rainy days we’ve seen, and the bright, sunny days that always follow.

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