This past Monday we celebrated the life of Peter Wing who died suddenly in a fluke skiing accident on Sunday, Jan. 13. His parents, Chris and Lala, have been a rich part of our church community for years. This past Monday an over-capacity crowd of people deeply impacted by Peter gathered at Highlands Church to grieve his death and share their love and support for the whole family. The following is a portion of my comments from that evening I’d like to share with you.
“For his 22nd birthday Peter decided he needed another tattoo. This one, in homage to his second home in Peru, was of a llama, or as his sister Cori describes it, “a sexy llama with great big eyelashes.” He chose the real estate for this new tattoo carefully. Peter was an avid distance runner and he wanted it on his calf so the people running behind him could see it and have a laugh.
On the Tuesday following Peter’s death, 4 of his friends had dinner with the Wing family. They wanted to show them the tattoos they’d gotten the day before in memory of Peter. All four got a sexy llama with the words “Live today and see tomorrow.” Those were Peter’s last words before he dropped into the 18” of powder off the ridge of Quandary Peak before he died.
I guess it was quite a spectacle to have 3 tattoo artists working on these 4 young men while a group of about 20 people watched. And somehow, with all those people watching, and 3 different tattoo artists involved, all four tattoos came out with “See tomorrow” spelled wrong, with only one “r” in “tomorow.”
“Live today and see tomorrow.” On Sunday, Jan. 13 Peter only got to do the first part of his motto. He was living large doing exactly what he loved but on that day, he didn’t get to see the morrow.
I don’t mean for this to sound maudlin, but none of us can be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will see tomorrow. A car runs a stop sign; you’re looking down at your phone… Dear friends the reality is that we are all living on this side of a split second that changes everything. We are ALL living on this side of a split second that changes everything.
As I’ve been mulling over Peter’s sudden and altogether too soon death, I know I can’t control the split second that could change everything for me but I can change anything I want on this side of that split second if I am not living for today the life I love.
It would show great respect for both how Peter lived and died for us to mull over the life we’re living on this side of a split second that can change everything. Are there life choices you’ve been putting off? Difficult decisions you’ve been avoiding? Are there grudges you’ll take to your grave or is their grace and forgiveness you’d rather extend?
Is there a letter you’ve been wanting to write, a conversation you need to have, a hand you need to hold, a relationship you need to mend, a risk you need to take, a dead end from which it is time with Peter to rise up?
Is there a joy you’ve said you don’t deserve, some happiness you won’t allow, some challenge you haven’t faced, some great opportunity your afraid to try?
It’s not likely but it’s possible every one of us in here will live to a ripe old age with no interrupting split second that changes everything.
But will we have truly lived for today and so see tomorrow?
Sadly, the wonderful Poet Mary Oliver died last week. In the last few words of her poem The Summer Day she writes:
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Peter’s goading call to his ski partner, with a wide grin and twinkle in his eye is this, “Live today and see tomorrow.”
Or in the two words of another unfortunate tattoo incident: “NO REGERTS”