Heaven's a Bit Brighter Today
We first moved to Nashua in August of 2000. Roy Street. A real neighborhood. Babies all over. Cul de sac. Lots to do. Young families. Children. Noise. Excitement. Neighbors. Long summer evenings. Street hockey. Snapping turtles. Laughter. Energy. New friends. Soccer balls. Grass cuttings. Barbecues. Lots and lots of young families.
As we settled in, we got to know Pete and Meg very quickly. You couldn't not. He was there, helping out all the time. His smile friendly. His interest true. Infectious enthusiasm. Boundless generosity. Endless energy.
His heart, wounded and treacherous. When we moved in he was recovering from his second heart attack and open heart surgery. In his late 30s, life precious and existence fragile. Uninsurable with two young kids and another on the way. I'm an insurance guy, and this has always troubled me, even then. Especially then.
Babies all over. We with our two under two. The Mitchells with their twins. And then their other twins. Meg and Pete with Colin. Here come the O'Rourkes with their two young uns. The older kids from down the street. All drawn to the same irresistible attraction.
A big kid, Pete. A fun backyard. The place to be. The big birthday parties with the big air house, the games. The family and neighborhood gatherings. Impromptu barbecues. The center of the neighborhood, the Millers'. Pete at the center. The organizer. The cook. Those steak tips! The brats, and Hawaiian rice.
The smile. Bright, joyful, blinding. Lighting up his face like a torch, illuminating everyone around him. To be around him was to have your spirits lifted. Mixed with the worry. The sense of borrowed time.
A great father. Wonderful friend. Devoted husband. And those beautiful, gorgeous children. Will never forget the time Ryan stayed over and came to breakfast in his bathrobe, slippers, and briefcase. The only thing missing was a pipe.
Bert. The big, funny-looking pit-bull mix that was just like Pete on four legs. Always around, always glad to see you. The neighborhood dog. Infectious enthusiasm and love of life. It wasn't a real day until you were greeted by Bert. Pete's proxy or maybe the other way around.
We moved away. The block parties followed us to our new house with our new pool for a couple of summers. It was good and fun. Still the steak tips and brats. Beans. Rice. Fun. Joy. Love. Then people started moving on, and we started drifting apart.
No more borrowed time. Ticket punched. A darker world. We are all a bit diminished. At 52, a short life, but one well lived. So many people impacted. Such a loss. Why is it always the good ones who seem to be called home so early, we wonder. Maybe God wanted a turn. Who could blame him?
Pete and his family were hit hard in his final decade. Government cutbacks. Sequester. The Great Recession. Tough, tough times for all, some more than others. Now, this. It's just Meg and the kids. Two in college and one coming up. A family in need of help. Our help.
Thanks, Pete. It was a pleasure. Haven't seen you for a while, but I miss you more than I would have thought. We'll do our best for Meg and the kids. It's the least we can do after all you've done for us.
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- Dr R Khoury
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