"Dad. I've got very, very, very bad news. Peter was killed tonight . . ."
With that middle-of-the-night phone call, life for the Mayer family plunged from "best-ever year" to months and years of dealing with the oppressive presence of Peter's unending absence.
A letter from his father to the freshly deceased Peter, intended for the memorial service, became the first in a torrent of letters from his dad to Peter, though which his dad poured out agonized and angry grief. In the letters, Peter's dad laments the way events otherwise beautiful for Peter's wife, five-year-old daughter, and the rest of the family are relentlessly punctuated with the pain of the loss. "Dammit, Peter, why didn't you . . .?"
Ultimately, slowly, the letters begin to reflect on the strange mystery of healing. How is it that in spite of the pain, in spite of the unending loss, comfort does come, opening the way once again for unbelievably deep joy?
"It was all so rich and beautiful that with a certain private touch, and exchange of glance, your mom and I signaled an agreement . . . slipped to our cave . . . with playful freedom and deep gratitude."
So for Peter's dad, the confirmation of the odd observation from Jesus: "How blessed are those who grieve!"