It was a rare "day away" for John and I. We went out to Race Point and reveled in the unexpected warmth of the day. This was a gift for October. Peter came prepared with his bathing suit, and I decided I was going in, prepared or not. In I went with my clothes on. Watching Peter in the water was like observing a dolphin. He dove, splashed, and just radiated joy. I floated on my back, basking in the sun, letting the salt water do the work of holding me up. We talked- about life, about illness, about God, about children, about dreams. We talked about his love of travel, and the places he'd visited. We talked about Hawaii and his dream of retiring there. We talked about gratitude, and the power of living in the moment. The two of us were prunes by the time we emerged from the water, laughing and spent. Out of the water, I realized I was a soggy, sandy mess. I realized, too, that I hadn't brought a change of clothes. We piled into David's pristine car and rode back to their house,Peter and I trying to stifle our laughter as we watched David's reaction to the sand I was wearing. Peter tried to loan me some clothes to change into so that we could go to dinner. We all laughed for what seemed like hours, before John decided we'd better go shopping. Looking like a swamp monster, I went into a shop and bought a dress that somehow worked with my beat up sneakers. We walked to dinner in the chatter of our friendships, nestled in the still bustling and vibrant streets. We ate, laughed, talked and had a few drinks. We laughed some more, until I wished for it to stop because my sides and belly hurt.
That December, Peter became suddenly ill. There were frantic phone calls, and a trip to the hospital. I drove to the hospital with another friend, but we were too late. There were and still are no words. There was a strange peace as we sat with him. I tucked a small box of sand that he had brought me from Hawaii into his hand. We prayed. We remembered. Oddly, we even laughed as we shared stories. A minister showed up to pray with us. We left, a blur of tears and shock.
As horrible as that day was, it isn't the day that I conjure up when I think of Peter. It is the day on the beach that always comes to mind. The peace, the freedom, the joy, the sun, the water, the laughter; the poignant reminder to live in the moment. Most days, even the tough ones, come with an opportunity to laugh at least once. Each evening reminds us of the brevity of light. It is a daily opportunity to give thanks for goodness-of people, of places, of God. Darkness never descends without the whisper of the coming day on the horizon. Every day dawns with a new opportunity to delight in the love of those around us, to seek joy and to wear our passion. How blessed are we?