how it came to be: what it meant to me
I think I have mentioned previously that my memory is not the best….but I do clearly remember the range of emotions, the support from family and friends far and wide, and the word that best described how I felt many of the days and weeks shortly after Peter passed: the word is “untethered”.
On the other hand, as I am able to remember this experience, I know that I was literally cradled in the arms and hearts of a very strong circle. I knew this while I was in it, but it held even more weight as I looked back on it over time. It still takes my breath away.
I knew there would not be a traditional service for Peter as that did not suit either of us. And honestly I was in no condition to be planning anything in those early days….but there is also something extremely healing about being able to turn your attention to something as important as honoring and sharing the love of this person who meant so much to so many in different ways.
And so this “gathering”, as it came to be known, started to take shape: it seemed to come together so organically. So naturally. So “Peter” in style.
With the help of our friends we chose the date: fittingly, Peter’s birthday, August 20th. The location was one close to our hearts; Sweetberry Farm.
From there the details unfolded almost as if we were being assisted by an unknown source. The menu was to be light, casual, fresh & delicious afternoon fare.
The decorations were designed by close friends who possess an artistic flair….those “shadow boxes” were front and center, flowers were plentiful and beautiful photos lined a wall from ceiling to floor for the taking.
The music came to me on the wings of an angel……it was as if Peter handpicked this perfect duo, Athene Wilson, to serenade us with soulful, upbeat tunes.
His scooter stood outside the entrance draped in the most beautiful lei flown in for this special occasion.
Friends and family came from as far away as Hawaii & California, and all up and down the east coast from Vt to Fla. Our dear friend and my mentor Bill Fish (& his wife Lynne) who could not be with us, sent a poem that the girls painted on a chalk board easel to welcome everyone to the gathering. We were one huge laughing, crying, storytelling, reminiscing group who had gathered for the sole purpose of paying tribute to a very special man.
At my request one of my sisters and two of our dear friends shared their love and memories as they spoke to this gathering. Each shared a different facet of Peter's life and what he had meant to all.
I had written a heartfelt eulogy of sorts but was unsure until the very moment was upon me whether I would actually be able to read it aloud. And then a strange thing happened when it was my turn - I just stepped up and in what felt like a very clear and unwavering voice I poured my heart out with pure love and gratitude for the day that had unfolded so perfectly. It was another experience I will never forget.
How fitting this post is on Peter's 10th birthday in spirit.
We ended the afternoon by writing our prayers and wishes on 60 pieces of wish paper and lighting them simultaneously to send up to our honoree, Peter. What a sight! It was a most fitting close to a wonderful celebration. My good friend Jerry may have said it best when he wrote me this little note the following day:
‘I don’t think anyone could have scripted a better day for Peter than the day we had today. The affections, the testimonials, all felt so true. Lucky man; lucky you. Put today in a locket and wear it close to your heart”
The thing is, it’s really all about the love. This gathering would serve to hold me up for months and years to come. It was more than I ever envisioned and to this day when I look at the pictures I am reminded of the essence of Peter. It was just his style and I know we all felt that he was with us (literally) in spirit. (p.s. stay tuned for proof of that to come!)