The roar of sixty-five thousand people was louder than any thunderclap that night. Stranger’s voices had become mine, and mine became theirs. The Boss had given an inordinate set-list, and no one could stop singing, laughing, or dancing in the dark under the stormy night sky. Comity was abundant that night in East Rutherford.
All of a sudden, in a moment of overt tranquility, the stadium went completely voiceless. In a distance, a violin was being played. From seventy rows away, I could feel the vibrations of the bow in my fingers. Suddenly, an accompanying piano began bursting notes that spoke a universal language to all that had heard them before. The Rat had returned to East Rutherford.
Every word was sung. Every beat was kept. Every line, note, and voice was forever etched into my mind. When it came time for late Big Man’s solo, his nephew took the stage.
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For a moment we all stood looking at him, thinking of the Big Man. The ghosts of our past and thoughts of our futures seemed to be released by the brass in the hands of the new soloist.
It was at that moment that I realized why the Big Man’s death had disconcerted an array of emotions inside me. In my life, the people and experience I have revered the most have come and gone. From my grandfather’s stories, to little league victories, to fishing with a plastic rod under the moon, dreaming about fish rather than catching them. It was a mystifying and perplexing realization that none of those memories would ever take place again.
And yet it was not a depressing revelation. It was neither pessimistic nor somber. I was exultant. Hearing the Big Man’s solo come out of his nephew’s saxophone was just a symbol, signalizing that new and unpredictable memories were to be made. That all of the positive impacts left behind by the Big Man were to be carried over, and built upon, by his successor and shared with everyone in the arena that night. And that just like the footprint the Big Man left behind, I realized all of my memories from the past would only pass into my future. What I didn’t know was how or when these memories would transcend later into my life. But Bruce and the Big Man let me know that day would come on that night in East Rutherford.
Bruce retook the stage, and the night’s silence reappeared with him. In a moment of breathtaking solace, he broke the barriers of the darkness’ requiescence in a seemingly ceaseless bellow that echoed across the swamps of Jersey. Without speaking a word, the crowd understood what that roar meant. It was an obituary. A memoriam. A cry to the past. It was also a glimpse into the covert dexterity the human condition contains; the ability to transcend adversity.
Jungleland is a place where sixty-five thousand strangers band together, and in one shining moment, they hurdle the quagmires of the past and set foot into an unforeseeable yet optimistic future.