Peter with my cat and my two doggies about ten years ago when I lived in the Seattle area.
Yesterday, January 10th, 2008, is the day my old friend Peter died while visiting one of his grown children in St. Martin's, Virgin Islands. The three children had come together by his bedside at the hospital and were "joking about old remembrances" when they noticed he was very still. His son tells me in this morning's email that he is sure that his dad heard them there, though he was no longer able to respond. It sounds like a good way to move into the next life to me.
I walked the two doggies out under the January moon this evening. It had been a dramatically stormy day here in New Jersey, with those brownish black skies crowding in and then dumping violent buckets of rain first on the southwest side of the house, and then later on the northeast. But this evening the storm had passed, and I saw the crescent moon bright in the sky, curved like a cradle, rocking to the left. I imagined that Peter might be up there having a look at the earth and his many many friends from a different perspective. I imagined he might be having a great deal of joy, free from the ninety four year old body and the illnesses that had been sapping his vitality for the past few years.
He leaves behind amazing memories in the minds of a wide swath of people who knew him in so many lands and circumstances. There are people in India, and Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as in England, France, Canada and both coasts of the U.S. Many of these folks have turned up over the years while Peter was living in my house in the Seattle area-- a sort of surrogate family member, somewhere between a father and a brother, perhaps. He shared his friends as he shared himself with them, always the gracious and dignified gentleman, bowing slightly in his English manner, and often putting his hands together in the Indian manner of greeting.
I like to think that the moon would gently cradle a man who has left a large but gentle imprint on the earth's history.