In the summer of 2008, my Mom called and let me know she gave my email address to a tennis friend’s friend who had a daughter moving to Rhode Island with her husband. The daughter was around my age and was from my same hometown of St. Petersburg, FL.
A few days later, I got an email from someone who would become one of my dearest friends. We corresponded via email for a few weeks and when she finally made the move to Rhode Island with her husband, we set up a time for the 4 of us to meet. She let me know her husband, Peter, loved to cook and they offered to make us dinner. Since my cooking specialty at the time was microwave popcorn, my husband and I took them up on their offer.
On our way to their apartment (5 minutes from our house), we spoke about how it felt like a blind date with another couple. Will we have anything in common with them? Will they like us? Our nerves were completely unnecessary because they quickly grew to become the best friends my husband & I could have ever asked for.
Peter taught us how to cook his gourmet recipes. We played Rock Band on the Wii until the wee hours, drinking Miller Lite and singing as loudly as possible in the basement of our townhouse. They went to Boston College basketball and football games with us. Then we got pregnant with our first babies only weeks apart. Our sons were born in October & December of 2011. Our nights of partying evolved into backyard barbecues with our young families, trips to the zoo, and even flights to visit our families in Florida. Throughout all of our time together, Cari never had a complaint about Peter. The joke in our faux book club was that we called him “Perfect Peter.” We meant it. I have never encountered such a kind, gentle, and inspirational person before Peter.
Our sons were best friends; after all they had both been to visit each other in the hospital for their births (even though Jackson was in my belly when Tysen was born). Cari and I were great friends from the beginning, despite her attending my alma mater’s rival Florida State. My husband and Peter texted each other about sports games and talked college sports every time we got together. When Jackson was 13 months old I became pregnant with Sidney. Only 3 weeks later Peter & Cari were expecting their second son. Life was great and it felt like we didn’t have a care in the world; we were blessed with great friends, a happy family, and a loving marriage.
Until our worlds were rocked in April of 2011. Peter, (a triathlete & college basketball player) had been dealing with some nasty headaches. I chalked it up to having a toddler that never sleeps, especially since I felt like we had the same issues. After his physician ordered an MRI, we found out he had an inoperable brain tumor. I still feel guilty about discounting his headaches as sleep deprivation.
Peter spent months commuting back and forth from Boston (1.5hrs each way) for 7 weeks undergoing radiation at Mass General. He maintained his positive, up-beat attitude and was determined to beat it. At a time when I am sure I would have crumbled into a million little pieces, he kept up his smile and bright outlook on life. His wife, my sweet friend, is incredibly strong. She was only weeks along in the beginning of her pregnancy with her second son when they found out about Peter’s tumor. She took care of their toddler, her pregnancy/new baby and Peter for 16 months. She spent months in Boston by his bedside with a newborn baby when his tumor hemorrhaged in December 2011. She is a rock.
We lost our beloved Peter on August 20th. My friend has lost her soul mate and I feel like we all have a giant hole in our hearts. I have a digital frame and when a picture of Peter and his family pop up on it I freeze in my tracks and my heart sinks. It’s not fair that his boys won’t know him. It’s heartbreaking that my friend has lost her best friend, I just don’t know what to do. Peter was an inspiration to anyone who has met him. That was made clear by the tons of people leaving stories about him on Facebook.
Tomorrow I will fly across the country to meet my friend and her boys in Peter’s home town of Orcas island off Washington State. We will honor him and celebrate his life on Saturday. A life that was too short. Hug your loved ones and get out there and LIVE. You never know what is going to happen.
Rest in peace, friend.
*Some people have asked how they can help his family. If you’d like to find out more, please visit the Friends of Peter page, thank you!