Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Sandpiper

By Robert Peterson

She was six years old when I first met her on
the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach,
a distance of three or four miles, whenever the
world begins to close in on me. She was building
a sand castle or something and looked up, her
eyes as blue as the sea.

'Hello,' she said.

I 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?' I asked, not really caring.

'Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand.'

That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my

A sandpiper glided by.

'That's a joy,' the child said.

'It's a what?'

'It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to
bring us joy.'

The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye
joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned
to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed
completely out of balance.

'What's your name?' She wouldn't give up.

'Robert,' I answered. 'I'm Robert Peterson.'

'Mine's Wendy...I'm six.'

'Hi, Wendy.'

She giggled. 'You're funny,' she said.

In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked
on. Her musical giggle followed me.

'Come again, Mr. P,' she called. 'We'll have another
happy day.'

The next few days consisted of a group of unruly
Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother.
The sun was shining one morning as I took my
hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I
said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited
me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along,
trying to recapture the serenity I needed.

'Hello, Mr. P,' she said. 'Do you want to play?'

'What did you have in mind?' I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

'I don't know. You say.'

'How about charades?' I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. 'I don't
know what that is.'

'Then let's just walk.'

Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness
of her face. 'Where do you live?' I asked.

'Over there.' She pointed toward a row of summer

Strange, I thought, in winter.

'Where do you go to school?'

'I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation.'

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the
beach, but my mind was on other things. When I
left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day.
Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.

'Look, if you don't mind,' I said crossly when Wendy
caught up with me, 'I'd rather be alone today.' She
seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

'Why?' she asked.

I turned to her and shouted, 'Because my mother
died!' and thought, My God, why was I saying this
to a little child?

'Oh,' she said quietly, 'then this is a bad day.'

'Yes,' I said, 'and yesterday and the day before
and -- oh, go away!'

'Did it hurt?' she inquired.

'Did what hurt?' I was exasperated with her, with

'When she died?'

'Of course it hurt!' I snapped, misunderstanding,
wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the
beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed,
and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up
to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the
door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-
colored hair opened the door.

'Hello,' I said, 'I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your
little girl today and wondered where she was.'

'Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy
spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to
bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept
my apologies.'

'Not at all--she's a delightful child.' I said, suddenly
realizing that I meant what I had just said.

'Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had
leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you.'

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch
my breath.

'She loved this beach, so when she asked to come,
we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here
and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the
last few weeks, she declined rapidly...' Her voice
faltered, 'She left something for you, if only I can find it.
Could you wait a moment while I look?'

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say
to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared
envelope with 'MR. P' printed in bold childish letters.
Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues--a yellow
beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was
carefully printed:


Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had
almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's
mother in my arms. 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so
sorry,' I uttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs
in my study. Six words--one for each year of her life
-- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and
undemanding love.

A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the
color of sand, who taught me the gift of love.

NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert
Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and
the incident changed his life forever. It serves
as a reminder to all of us that we need to take
time to enjoy living and life and each other.
The price of hating other human beings is
loving oneself less.

Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of
everyday traumas can make us lose focus about
what is truly important or what is only a momentary
setback or crisis.

This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra
hug, and by all means, take a moment...even if it is
only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.

This comes from someone's heart, and is read by
many and now I share it with you...

May God Bless everyone who receives this! There
are NO coincidences!

Everything that happens to us happens for a
reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant.
Who knows what they can teach us?

I wish for you, a SANDPIPER!!

I know and love one.

Do you?

** To read many other stories just like this one,
visit: .

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