This is a road I’ve never walked down. Where a loss can be so paralyzing that not much else matters than what is right in front of me. It was like a light was dimmed inside my heart. A flame that was not quite extinguished but was getting close to the end of its wick. When I first learned of Peter’s death I shut myself into my friends bedroom and only left to use the bathroom. I didn’t want to talk about it or receive any amount of sympathy. It would be two months until I got to Massachutsetts and up until this point I had buried myself in denial. But coming here made everything come into focus and it was as though I hit a brick wall, I knew I had to come to terms with his death.
Peter wasn’t young but his death was sudden and unexpected. I had been planning this trip out East for months. Growing up in Colorado we would come to Cape Cod every Summer, this is where my Mom’s side of the family is from. But as I got older and my Grandparents passed I was now responsible for getting myself to Mass. I would come for a week, maybe two but never long enough to really be in this space and get to know my family on a deeper level as an adult. This was my opportunity.
Peter would usually be in Mexico where he lived full-time but was in Mass indefinitely under unfortunate circumstances. This was going to be my chance to ask him all the questions I was to young to ask then. When I would come visit as a child he was the first person I would go see. I would jump on my bike and race to his modest cottage. I’d usually find him working in the shop or listening to Mexican music in his kitchen. He was an intense person and he never talked to me like a child. He choose his words carefully and spoke with intention and emotion. I found him intelligent, wise, wordly, experienced, and raw. He saw beauty in day to day things, simple and small. Since that time I have always seen the world as Peter did. Anyone who knows me knows how easily I am captivated by a butterfly, a sunset, the smell of mossy woods, or a mildewy Cape house. I believe I owe this quality, one of my best, to him.
While he would be dancing to Mexican music in his kitchen I would be out in his yard playing in his hammock dreaming about the life in front of me. Certainly not imagining a life where we went years without speaking. Not intentionally, because life happens, and when you’re young, trying to find your way family seems low on the priority list. No matter what your age this should never be the case.
His death, as death does, has made me ponder my own mortality. I believe many of us never truly accept that we will one day die. It seems so finite, so cruel. I’m not sure what I believe. But what I felt during this time of grief was his body returned to the earth and his “spirit” moved into his friends and loved ones. I believe it’s up to us, the living, to determine whether or not someone really dies. I read somewhere that we are remembered more by how we made others feel than for our accomplishments. I may not remember the things we spoke about or words of wisdom he may have passed on to me but I do remember a feeling. He made me feel as though life is a beautiful song that’s meant to be danced to. That beauty lives within the simple things, not in shiny cars, or big houses, but in human connection, generosity, and a siesta in a hammock. Maybe I won’t get to hear all of his stories but I can dance around the kitchen listening to Mexican music and its as though he is as alive as he was when I was 10.