These are the 122 steps leading down to the beach at Horton’s Point, Long Island. Over the years, Chris walked down them many times with our friend Karen Karp to swim together in The Long Island Sound. Karen and Dick’s home nearby was one of her favourite hangouts and she went there whenever she could.
Today the three of us took some of Chris’s ashes to the shore. Karen and I waded out a few yards and I released a handful of ashes into the water. Karen stood nearby in her wetsuit. I passed her the container with the remaining ashes.
“Do you want to take our girl for a swim?” I asked.
Karen nodded, plunged into the sea and struck out towards the horizon. Soon she allowed the tide to catch her and drift her parallel to the shoreline. After 10 minutes or so, she made her way back to where Dick and I were waiting and handed me the empty container.
“I opened the lid and let her ashes flow out as I went along,” she said. “It was beautiful to swim with her again. Thank you.”
As she spoke, a small white butterfly flitted around us. They are commonplace here but it was a touching moment and lifted our spirits. Chris had a great gift for friendship and she would have been delighted that our dear friends Karen and Dick were able to say farewell to her in this way with me.
Chris and I stayed here for our first holiday as a couple, in August 2002. It was our “unmarried honeymoon” and the start of a new life together. But it was Karen’s idea to finish our North American peregrination back where it all started and she was absolutely right.
As I write these words, Karen and Dick are cooking dinner and compiling the playlist for their wedding in New York on 1st July. They are getting married after 20 years together and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Chris, I’m sure, will be looking over our shoulders to witness them exchanging their vows in City Hall, and dancing with us at the celebration party afterwards.
I’m not going to be giving a speech at the wedding but if I was, I think I would say, from what Chris and I learned during our time together: life is short and precious; enjoy each other every moment you can; and – in the end – love really is all you need.
What a lovely uplifting ending. Fitting for Chris, by your description of her. You’ve done her proud. Im sure your sharing about her has touched many people’s lives. I never met her but I feel as if I know her and she is now an inspiration for me to live life to the full. Thank you Geoff.
Thank you Umi… this particular journey is coming to a close. Still one or two places in England and Ireland to go.