October 6th, 2004


The First Dance.


One of the best weddings I'd ever been to was several years ago at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The most memorable part was during the wedding reception - right when the bride and groom finished their first dance. There was a loud banging sound outside, and everybody looked at the door, wondering what the fuck it was. Next thing you know, the University of Michigan marching band burst into the room, playing the school fight song. Insane.

So when I headed to Vegas for my second Bellagio wedding, I figured it'd be a good time. And it was. The blackjack tables were generous; the cocktail shrimps were as big as a baby's arm; and the bar was as open as the Caspian Sea.

And of course, the bride was beaming. Beaming brighter than most brides. Because the journey she'd taken to get to this point was different than most other women.

Back when she was in her mid-twenties, she'd discovered she had breast cancer. I remember she'd been quiet about it. She simply disappeared for a year; and when I saw her again, she had noticeably short hair. That's when I realized why she'd been gone for so long. I never asked about it, because I sensed that she didn't want to be viewed or treated any differently than she was before.

When my sister got sick, however, I felt there were very few people I knew who could even possibly understand or relate to that experience. So I pulled her aside at a party one night. We talked about my sister, and, for the first time, for a very long time, we spoke about her.

After beating cancer, she'd gone back to living a normal life again, and through the years we'd all almost forgotten about it. That is until the wedding reception. Watching her dance with her new husband for the first time as a wife, on the happiest night of her life, I was reminded again of all that she'd been through.

And I felt that she'd truly given cancer the finger.

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