December 7th 2015

Peggy Hughes was my neighbor, but I don’t live in a neighborhood. Her airy house, a hilly bike ride away, was tucked into the woods next to the best sledding hill around. She and her husband invited me over along with a few people, years ago. Decades ago. After that, I always wanted to have her to mine; but, embarrassingly, one thing led to another, which, when coupled with a distinct lack of self assurance when it came to entertaining, conspired to make me remiss.
Peggy’s husband died and she remarried. Whenever I saw her I thought: She is stunning with that wonderful twinkle of hers in the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen. She moved away from the hillside house nearby and was ever conscientious about her work in real estate. She was often spotted, striding somewhere with an armload of papers.
Aspiring to be like her, I got my real estate license. But did not commit to the necessary full involvement. My adored, aging parents needed help, along with two growing boys and farm animals–the too full, lucky life I enjoyed.
I lost track of Peggy, but saw her this past summer. She sparkled as always, saying she was happily living in the center of town where she could walk to the theater. It was just like her to beam about her new situation. I admired her for never saying that anything was difficult or lonesome; wishing, however, that she might have confided in me if she’d been inclined.
Peggy died last month from a stroke. One minute she was there. The next she was gone. Today the bright church in Skillman brimmed with her darling family and hundreds of the people she touched. We sang and cried and talked to one another. I wondered what life would be like if our inter/inner connections could become entirely full; as if we’d always known everything we needed and wanted and craved to know about each other.
That yearning seems to underlie the legacy of Peggy’s grace and love on this sunny December day. (Oh to have every person in the world become thoroughly understood, cared for, guided, even forgiven.) I have no doubt that, like me, each stunned individual in the congregation was thinking: I could never have enjoyed her company for long enough. There is always so much more to be learned.