Was a Good Adventure
o'clock A.M. The beach. A wave crashes. A birdsong answers. The
sky is the blue-gray of just before dawn, the horizon a haze without
boundary, no separation of sea and sky yet apparent. But just beginning
to break through the gloom are the first blossoms of the sun's glow,
bringing with them the promise of warmth. Much-needed warmth, for
the air is cold this morning, the breath of four friends turning
to vapor as they gather under the shelter of the short wooden pier.
They stand, blowing into their hands - unspeaking, but minds at
once reaching both backward and forward in time. Backward in remembrance,
one cracking a lopsided smirk at some practical joke recalled to
mind. Forward in anticipation, another smiling warmly at some future
reuniting, unseen and yet guaranteed. The four huddle together,
not for shared warmth but with their heads bowed to send a shared
prayer heavenward - one of sorrow but also of thanks; entreating
for comfort but also rejoicing. For a moment silence rests on the
beach, the waves muted, even the birds cease their song in solemn
attendance to the words being softly spoken.
at once the moment of prayer is past, and inexplicably to any observers,
they shed their shirts, cast away their shoes, and in the blink
of an eye are running headlong for the icy water - in a ragged non-formation
but with determination born of respect and admiration. Each utters
his own wordless battle cry, equal parts anguish and jubilation,
but in all four minds lies the same thought: "This is for you, man,"
each thinking of the same man; inspiration of the morning's events,
though absent from them. The men reach the water; each footfall
splashes higher; their cries crescendo; a wave rolls to meet them;
they dive. Headfirst they dive into the frigid sea, free from fear,
from hesitation, and most importantly, from regret - purposefully
reminiscent of the limitless exuberance with which their absent
friend has lived his life. As one they rise from beneath the waves,
breaking the surface with gasps for the breath they were robbed
of seconds before by the arctic water. It has shocked them awake,
brought them even more vibrant clarity to the inestimable value
of the precious gift of life. They run for the shore with everything
they have to give, not to be the one who wins, but to exult in the
competition itself - the leader reaching the goal first but never
leaving his fellows behind.
off, they grin and speak of their friend; of his adventures and
his certain approval of theirs on this cold February morning. The
friends (though some, on the occasion of watching them, might call
them brothers) tell stories of the varied relationships each have
taken part in with him: from colleagues in sport and flight to students
in the same; some taught him, others taught by him; one recalls
his fearlessness, another his compassion; each and every tale imbued
with the abundant love and respect they've been blessed by God to
carry for him. After today, none of them will be the same, for each
realizes that he has become even closer to their departed friend.
With their plunge into the water and their emergence from it, they've
taken a tiny version of the journey taken by their friend who, though
he fell, is already made new again, and waiting for them to join
him from everlasting to everlasting. They go to break their fast
together, before joining hundreds of others whose lives have also
been touched, who have been left better people for knowing him.
The four will hear later from their friend's father what they were
hoping all along: that "Jamie would say, 'This was a good adventure.'"
in memory of Jamie Fletcher