Monday, February 13, 2006

Beyond the Sea

It started out as a difficult day and got much worse before it got better.

None of our plans were falling into place. The kids, Kristine and Matt, Pete's brother Arnie, and I were delayed half an hour while waiting to collect Pete's urn from the church office, where it had rested overnight after his memorial Mass on Saturday. Then, we discovered that our boat ride was postponed for at least two hours. We waited at the dock. After noontime, we were directed to a different dock location. When we arrived there, we saw that the bathtub-sized motor boat that had been scheduled to take us out to sea to lay Pete to rest was not running.

It was a beautiful, clear, sunny Sunday. The ocean flashed and shimmered like liquid sapphires. Yet we had spent hours wandering in forlorn circles and had gotten nowhere nearer to fulfilling Pete's last wish. It was a discouraging moment for all of us.

The tiny boat's skipper spoke to someone who worked on the dock, who in turn made a phone call. A few minutes later, we were given the slightly encouraging news that if we could wait another twenty minutes, a much nicer boat could take us out for our mission.

By now, we all were heavily invested in this adventure. We agreed to wait it out and were directed across the street and down the block, to yet another dock location. By now it was mid-afternoon, but we were willing to be patient and see what the fates would deliver.

Then we saw the boat sailing majestically down the channel towards us. It was a 73-foot yacht, an absolutely gorgeous boat.

The skipper's name, interestingly enough, was Peter. The crew were all friendly and sympathetic. They helped us onboard, served us refreshments, laughed and talked easily with us. When we were far enough out to sea to lay Pete to rest, the four of us went up to the bow along with the skipper. Peter said a beautiful, spontaneous prayer about the power and wonder of the Universe. Matt tossed his Dad's urn over the side, and each of us in turn pulled off our Hawaiian lei and flung it onto the rolling sea.

The golden afternoon continued as we sailed back to the dock, and we were all very grateful for the hospitality of these kind-hearted strangers. As magical as the day had become, it was hard for me to face coming back to shore. I had left the tangible remains of my life’s love behind me, under the waves, down in the deep. A whisper inside tells me that Pete sent that beautiful boat our way, to deliver a cheerful surprise on what could have been a much more depressing day for his family. It just seems like something that Pete would arrange.

Love never leaves. Wait for me, Pete. Out there, beyond the sea, I believe I’ll come find you again one day.