My wish for all of you is many Sandpipers

Every once in a while I run across a story that really sends a message. This is one of those, and it is true.

She was just six years old when he first met her on the beach near where he lived. He drove to this beach, a distance of a few miles whenever the world began to close in on him. When he arrived she was building a sandcastle or something, and when she looked up her eyes were as blue as the sea.

‘Hello,’ she said. He answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. ‘I’m building,’ she said. ‘I see that, what is it?’ he asked, not really caring. ‘Oh, I don’t know, I just love the feel of the sand.’ That sounds good, he thought, and just as he slipped off his shoes, a sandpiper glided by.

‘That’s a joy,’ the child said. ‘It’s a what?’ he asked. ‘It’s a joy… my mama says sandpipers come to bring us all joy!’ As the bird went gliding down the beach, he muttered to himself, ‘Good-bye joy, hello pain,’ and turned to walk away, depressed and feeling that his life seemed completely out of balance.

‘What’s your name?’ she asked, not giving up and just trying to spark a friendly conversation. ‘Robert,’ he quietly answered, ‘I’m Robert Peterson.’ ‘Mine’s Wendy. I’m six!’ ‘Hi, Wendy,’ he managed, then she giggled and uttered ‘You’re funny!’

In spite of his gloom, he laughed a little too and walked on, and her musical giggle followed him, along with a happy, ‘Come again, Mr. P, we’ll have another happy day!’

The next few days for Robert consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother. However the sun was shining one morning, and after finishing his chores he thought he really needed a sandpiper, so he grabbed his coat and headed for the beach to try and capture some serenity.

‘Hello, Mr. P,’ a familiar voice broke the silence, ‘Do you want to play?’ ‘What did you have in mind?’ he asked with a twinge of annoyance. ‘How about charades?’ he asked sarcastically. Wendy burst forth again with that tinkling laughter, explaining that she didn’t know what that game was. ‘Then let’s just walk,’ he suggested, and as they strolled down the beach and he looked at her Robert couldn’t help but notice the delicate fairness of her pretty face.

‘Where do you live?’ he asked. ‘Over there,’ she stated, pointing toward a row of summer cottages. The thought occurred to him that this was winter, and he inquired as to where she went to school. ‘I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.’ She continued to chatter little girl talk as they strolled up the beach, but even though his mind was on other things, she reminded him it had been a good day, and he actually felt better.

Three weeks later, he would rush back to his beach in a state of near panic, and while he was in no mood to even greet little Wendy, he thought he saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home. ‘Look, if you don’t mind, he said rather crossly when she caught up with him, ‘I’d rather be alone today!’ Then he noticed that she seemed unusually pale and out of breath, but managed to ask him ‘why?’

He turned to her and shouted, ‘because my mother died!’ ‘Oh,’ she said quietly, ‘Then this is a bad day?’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘and so were yesterday and the day before and would you please go away.’

‘Did it hurt when she died?’ the little girl asked, and he was so wrapped up in himself he snapped, ‘Of course it did,’ and strode away. A month or so later he went back to the beach but Wendy wasn’t there.

Feeling guilty and ashamed, and admitting that he had really missed her, he went up to the cottage of her family. A drawn and sad looking lady welcomed him and asked him in. ‘I missed your little girl today, she is such a delightful child and I wondered where she was’?

With a lot of pain on her face the mother quietly explained, ‘She thought the world of you, but Wendy died last week of leukemia, and although she never complained, she was going downhill quickly. Maybe she didn’t tell you?’

Absolutely shocked Mr. Peterson could not catch his breath, and then had to fight back the tears when Wendy’s mother told him in a faltering voice that Wendy had left something for him.

She handed him a smeared envelope with “Mr. P” printed in bold childish letters, then inside was a bright drawing in crayon colours of a yellow beach, a blue sea and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed… A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy!

That wonderful little girl with the sea blue eyes, hair the colour of sand, and that infectious giggle had given him the gift of harmony, love, courage, and understanding, even in those most saddest of circumstances.

Have a great week, all of you!